Target Calls: Office Managers And Chefs Seek Work

Thousands of people from many backgrounds are seeking a limited number of jobs at the Target job fair.

Claire Foster did not envision when she looked ahead to being 55-years-old, she said Thursday. She was one of hundreds who showed up for the .

Unemployment in Santa Cruz County currently stands at 13.7 percent, and has not dropped below 10 percent since December 2008, according to the U.S Bureau Of Labor Statistics.

Foster was the office manager when Creative Labs in Scotts Valley shut its doors in Jan. 2011. She came out Thursday unsure if she qualifies for any positions at Target, but is trying to find anything at this point.

"I've been jobless a long time and it's really scary," said Foster. "My unemployment runs out in 10 weeks and I'm not sure what to do."

She is currently taking care of a disabled person for room and board and said she was lucky to swing that arrangement.

A need for a job was the common thread linking everyone applying on Thursday, but each had his or her own reasons, career status and stage of life to weigh while applying.

Carlos Hernandez, 23, recently left a chef job at Burger in Santa Cruz.

"It was too stressful and I would get out so late I had to spend $20 for a cab ride home a lot of nights," he said. "I'm really good at merchandising and sales [which] I did at Gottschalks and Mervyn's."

He is hoping to work on the sales floor or in purchasing.

Another chef looking for a job with the retail giant was 45-year-old Alex Acevedo of Live Oak. After a string of jobs that he was unhappy with, he has decided to look into other sectors.

"I briefly worked in the coffeeshop at Watsonville [Community] Hospital from December to March of this year," he said. "It wasn't for me. That's where chefs go to die."

Online applications being normal hiring method for most businesses bothers Acevedo. He came to the job fair because he would meet an employer face-to-face.

"You can build yourself up to be Superman on a resume," he said. "If you don't get to talk to someone in person it doesn't mean anything."

On recent job searches he has been viewed as overqualified for available low level positions. He always writes "negotiable" to indicate the pay he is seeking, and feels that turns away employers before any negotiation occurs.

Foster said her experience since being laid off shows that hiring processes need an overhaul. 

"After being in several job search systems for 16 months, it's clear it's broken," she said. "I am registered with three temp agencies, but no one ever calls me with jobs."  

One job seeker who remained anonymous said he was there to satisfy the requirement that he apply for jobs to keep receiving unemployment benefits, but that if he gets a job that is an added plus.

The Target job fair is located at 2045 40th Avenue in Capitola and goes until 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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