Hopeful applicants filled the Roane State Community College campus in Lenoir City Thursday afternoon, looking for employment at the newly constructed Ceramica Del Conca plant in Sugarlimb Industrial Park.
Thursday was the first of two job fairs Del Conca USA plans to host before operations starts around the beginning of 2014. The second job fair will be 3-7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at the Loudon Fire Hall.
Paul Boyles, Del Conca human resources manager, said about 90 jobs need to be filled for factory positions, and between 10-12 applicants would be chosen for training in Italy. Phase one operations should total about 110 jobs, including supervisor and office positions, he said.
While applicants with manufacturing experience are desired, Boyles said it is not required.
Adina Chumley, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development representative, said career services coaches were there to help screen applicants.
"The employer is telling us who they want to hire," Chumley said. "Experienced is preferred, so we kind of separate those with experience and without experience. But now we have so many with experience that we're just basically screening everybody."
The amount of people applying in the job fair's first hour was "wild," Kim Harris, RSCC placement director, said. People started lining up 50 minutes before the fair started, she said.
Throughout the four-hour job fair, Chumley said 301 people applied for factory positions.
Boyles said he hoped to have the 10-12 trainees picked by Nov. 1 so there would be enough time to organize travel plans.
"Well, we'll make a few commitments by the first week of November for a few folks," Boyles said, "and then the majority of the commitments will come between then and say late December, early January, basically, is the plan in my head right now."
Travis Salyers was one of the many interested applicants wanting employment. Salyers said he previously worked at Yale Locks and Hardware Co. in Lenoir City, and Newell Rubbermaid in Maryville. He currently works at a glass manufacturer in Sweetwater, he said.
"Well, hopefully if I can get this job, I'll be closer to home," Salyers said. "Hopefully, I can get the day shift. Right now I'm working second shift with six days a week. It'll mean quite a bit if I can get this job, that way I'm closer to home."
Melissa Davis said she was a single mother who lost her job at Yale in November, and getting this job would "mean the world."
"I've got two kids at home to take care of, and doing it on unemployment is rough," she said.
For those attending the second job fair, Chumley said applicants should dress for success. She also recommended creating a profile at jobs4tn.gov
, which is a free virtual recruiter for the state.
"When you go to a job fair, one of the most important things that you get is a face-to-face with (human resources) and/or recruiters who can get your foot in the door," Chumley said. "So it's really important to maximize the job fair. So many of our companies, just like the state, we are all applying for jobs online. Well, we don't know who's at the other end of that resume that we submit.
"But at a job fair, you do get to meet someone," she said. "You do have a chance to introduce yourself and really make a pitch for yourself, market yourself, if you will."