The Queens Center mall last week opened up its doors to match up stores that need help for the coming holidays with people looking for work.
Twenty-four retailers set up shop at the food court on the mall’s lower level. The line of job seekers at noon ran the length of the interview area, extended up to the second floor and wound around three sides of the escalator bank.
Dawn Simon, the senior manager for marketing for the mall, said a similar job fair this past summer drew 2,000 job applicants. The Oct. 20 session brought 1,500, including 500 in the first two hours, seeking some of the roughly 1,200 positions available.
Simon said she purchased advertising beforehand, reminding people to bring plenty of resumes, and offering applicants advice on things ranging from interview techniques to personal appearance.
“This is good for our tenants, good for the job seekers and good for us,” she said. “Everybody wins. And if they like a worker there always is a the chance that they will hire them full-time.”
Statistics from the state’s Department of Labor state that Queens had an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in August, as opposed to 8.4 percent statewide.
The figures, the latest full month’s available, were not adjusted for seasonal occupations.
The ages of people standing in line ranged from teenagers to senior citizens, all hoping to catch at least a temporary break in the job market.
And the stores in the Elmhurst mall were appreciative of the one-stop shopping that Queens Center availed them.
“We usually post jobs online,” said Ines Rodriguez, store manager for Payapa Clothing. “People contact us and then go to an individual store. Having so many people come to us is easier. And I’ve already seen some people who would be a good fit for us.”
The lines were carefully managed for safety reasons. As people approached the head of the line they were given tickets and asked which of the employers most appealed to them and directed accordingly.
“But the rules are once you get in you can visit as many as you want,” she said.
She also said Friday that 13 people were hired on the spot.
Retailers were not the only ones taking advantage of the gathering.
“The one place I interviewed that sounded the best to me was a job at JFK Airport,” said Maurice Parker of Corona.
Parker said he has been out of work two months, but is not disheartened.
“You learn the techniques for a good interview,” he said. “If they like you they smile and shake your hand. It they don’t they say, ‘Thank you.’”