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Job hunters see few signs of hiring improvement

Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Nils Montag (right) of Crystal Lake waits to speak with Chase Bank's Becky Bonnis (left) at the McHenry County College and McHenry County Workforce Network Job Fair Friday, April 19, 2013. Montag was looking for a new career after he lost his job as a nursing home chef.
Caption
(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Hundreds of job seekers visited the job fair presented by McHenry County College and the McHenry County Workforce Network Job Fair Friday, April 19, 2013.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Local job seekers are seeing few signs of an improving economy in the employment market.

“It’s pretty cutthroat out there right now,” said Lucas Gochanour, a 31-year-old Crystal Lake resident looking for a job in marketing, professional services and consulting.

Gochanour was among scores looking for work at a job fair Friday at McHenry County College. More than 40 employers sought recruits at the event, which was hosted by MCC and the McHenry County Workforce Network.

For the last two months Gochanour has been networking, sending out résumés, and interviewing for jobs. He recently worked in marketing at an event production company and is hoping to find something similar.

On average, Nils Montag, 47, of Crystal Lake, has been sending about one job application a day since February. He previously worked as a chef at a nursing home, but wants to parlay his data analysis skills into a new career.

“I’ve been on my feet for 30 years,” he said Friday at the job fair. “I’d like to sit down at my next job.”

The job market, he said, hasn’t improved much since the Great Recession.

“No. Not really,” he said. “Some days I’ll find six or seven jobs to apply for, but other days, there’s nothing.”

Retta Williams has been on the job hunt for the last two weeks after being laid off from a data entry job.

“It’s not going well,” the 25-year-old Crystal Lake woman said. “All the jobs are in retail, factories or warehouses.”

Timothy Gabriel, 18, of Lake Barrington, has sent out more than 200 job applications in the last 18 months while studying electronics and computer technology at DeVry. In a competitive job market, Gabriel is often vying for the same positions as older, more experienced candidates.

“It’s disheartening to say the least,” he said. “At least from my prospective, the job market isn’t getting any better.”

Companies from throughout the region attended Friday’s job fair, including The Cleaning Authority, Chase Bank, Edward Jones, Walgreen Co., Berry Plastics Corp., Catalent, BMO Harris, Visiting Angels, Home State Bank, and Scot Forge.

Employers said they were collecting stacks of applications for the few available jobs.

Spring Grove-based Sportdecals Inc. had been looking to fill three customer service positions, but two of the spots were recently taken, said Human Resources Manager Mandi Krahel. The large pool of potential employees means employers can be selective.

“We’re getting lots of applications,” she said. “For us, it’s about finding the one candidate that really fits with our company.”

Unemployment held steady in Illinois in March at 9.5 percent, with 629,000 people looking for work. State Department of Employment Security Director Jay Rowell said Thursday that the high unemployment rate reflects continued economic struggles in the U.S. and abroad.

The department said Thursday that Illinois lost a net 17,800 jobs in March. The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 9,000 jobs and leisure and professional and business services firms shed 5,800 jobs.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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