Shayna Porter of Longview said she has worked two years for staffing agencies.
Between jobs for three days, Porter was on the other side of the table Thursday at the eighth annual Hiring Red, White & You! job fair at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.
“I’m looking to stay in HR,” Porter said as she visited prospective employers.
Porter, who is married to an Army veteran, said she thought the job fair seemed “pretty good. I think a lot of people showed up. I’ve never been to (a job) fair before.”
She was among more than 200 people who attended the four-hour job fair Thursday at Maude Cobb, one of 30 that the Texas Workforce Commission hosted statewide.
Job seekers registered at the front desk, where staff from Workforce Solutions East Texas handed them a list of about 90 potential employers that included restaurants, banks, manufacturers, energy companies and home health care agencies. A map showed the employers’ locations in the building.
“We just want (veterans) to have the same benefits as anyone else,” said Virginia Deluna, payroll specialist at Jacksonville-based Austin Bank. She said Austin Bank, which has 33 locations in Texas, was recruiting customer service representatives and bank tellers.
Deluna said Austin Bank has staffed previous Hiring Red, White & You! job fairs. And like several other employers at the job fair, Austin Bank required job seekers to apply online.
By contrast, the Olive Garden and Mount Pleasant-based Aveanna Healthcare (formerly Epic Health Services) were newcomers to the job fair.
“We’re looking for great people who want to make our (dining) guests feel like family,” Olive Garden Service Manager Raquel Escobedo said.
Veterans bring skills such as being disciplined and dependable, according to Matt Stephens, client services director for Aveanna, which provides pediatric home health care to clients up to age 21. Aveanna was recruiting nurses.
“If you don’t show up (to work), it is a huge deal,” Stephens said. “They work in long, 10-hour shifts a day.”
Job seekers who showed up Thursday included former Navy petty officer Jean Shadwick of De Berry and Army National Guard veteran Thomas Barnes of Longview.
Shadwick, who has been looking for a job since September, said she is pursuing an accounting degree online. She arrived with her husband, James, a disabled Army veteran who came with a service dog.
Unlike Shadwick, Barnes said he has a job but was looking for something less stressful than his employment as a correctional officer in a private prison.