CAPE MAY — Autumn Lampert said she was feeling more confident about her search for a summer gig Saturday afternoon as she filled out a stack of applications during a job fair at Convention Hall.

“Everyone is so nice; as soon as you walk past, they greet you,” the 19-year-old city resident said. “It took off the pressure. It’s more of a competition for (the business owners) than me.”

More than a dozen restaurants, hotels and retail businesses packed the hall for the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May’s job fair.

The county’s unemployment rate as of February was 13%, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, but that is a preliminary percentage, and not seasonally adjusted. By comparison, the state’s unemployment rate is 4.1%, and the nation’s is 3.8%.

While attendance of prospective employees was a little light due to the holiday weekend, people milled in and out, networking and filling out applications for seasonal work.

Lampert, who is applying to Atlantic Cape Community College to study biology, said the job fair gave her the push she needed to apply for a job, and she was impressed by the number of options available.

College students like Lampert, as well as other workers who want to supplement their income or stay busy with part-time work, were the target of the fair, which is in its second year, said Doreen Talley, director of marketing for the chamber.

About 50 percent of the city’s businesses are seasonal, she added.

“Years past, people used to put ads in the paper, and now you see a lot of that on Facebook,” Talley said. “This is kind of a one-stop shop, and we feel the people that come in are serious about getting a position.”

Jonathan Hirsch, food and beverage director for Montreal Beach Resort on Beach Avenue, was looking to hire servers and food runners for the hotel as well as Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille, and said finding seasonal workers can be tough.

“It’s like opening up a new business or restaurant every year,” he said. “Sadly, staffing can be a bit of a challenge, no matter the business, but we’re holding our own down here.”

Some businesses were looking for full-time employees, too.

Franco Berarducci, owner of the Blue Fish Inn on Madison Avenue, said he was looking for housekeepers. It was his first time with a table at the fair, and he said it’s a very different atmosphere than someone coming into his business to drop off a resume.

“They feel empowered because they can bounce around,” he said, motioning from table to table. “It puts us in the same playing field to see if they want to work for you.”

At least one business owner thought she found a good candidate.

Wendy Collins, owner of Curious Cape May, said she found someone who could be a good fit with her bike tour company.

For her, the job fair was important because she doesn’t have the marketing budget to recruit workers, she said.

“I think this job fair gives people like us, who are small, the opportunity to find good candidates,” Collins said. “It really allows us to find that perfect candidate in a small town.”

Contact: 609-272-7241 mbilinski@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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