Erna Henson, a state government employee worried about possible cutbacks, decided to get an early start on a search for new opportunities by attending the third annual Anne Arundel County Job Fair.
But opportunities were few to be found, she said yesterday.
Even locating a part-time job can be difficult, Henson said. "They just take your application and say, 'We'll get back to you.' "
Fewer employers attended this year's fair that did last year -- "a direct result of the recession," according to Robert Schweriner, assistant director of career planning and development for Anne Arundel Community College.
Held at the Arnold college, the event featured 32 employment recruiters, compared with 57 last year. While job-seekers turned out, many people found that employers simply did not have many jobs to offer.
"A lot of companies are just here to collect resumes for when they do begin to hire," said Jeanette Wessel, executive vice president of the Anne Arundel Trade Council.
"We had more jobs last year and people are tending not to leave the jobs they are currently in," said Sharon Borland, an employment specialist at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis.
The number of students who attended the fair did not seem to be affected by the downward trend in employment availability.
"The turnout has been great this year, about 98 percent of the people had resumes ready," said Sue Stein of Harbor Hospital in South Baltimore, which was recruiting for clerical and respiratory therapist positions.
But students appeared to be in the same boat as veteran workers.
Randy Johnson, a University of Baltimore student who works for a car-rental agency, visited the fair due to the threat of being laid off.
After searching for a management position, he found three or four interesting ones, but didn't know where it would go from there.
"A lot of employers say they are hiring, but really aren't," he said.
Said the trade council's Wessel: "Many of the employers simply come out to show their support for the community and for the job fair, even though they are not hiring."