GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - More than 3,000 people looking for work passed through a conference room at the Marriott Hotel in Gulfport on Tuesday. That's where WLOX and several other businesses hosted a job fair.
Representatives from more than three dozen companies met with prospective employees, while collecting resumes and phone numbers.
You could call it a commentary on the economy here in South Mississippi. We spoke with dozens of people who face a very difficult challenge finding jobs in these tight times.
When the job fair began, the long line of people looking for work stretched down a hallway, through the lobby, then outside the hotel's front entrance. One longtime hotel employee told us he'd never seen such a large crowd for an event at the Marriott.
The challenge for job seekers became finding a way to stand out among the throng.
"I'm just checking out all the opportunities. I am with Americorps right now. My term ends in November and I'm just seeing what else is available," Kathy Reid said.
"That's a list of our open positions for Beau Rivage," said a woman, as she passed out employment fliers.
Ocean Springs' Shawn VanLancker would love to land a job in the casino industry. He's been working construction, but is now out of work and interested in computers.
"I applied for a limo job at the Beau Rivage. Just trying to get my feet in anywhere. I'd really like to work at one of the casinos 'cause my wife works there and she really likes working at the casino," he said.
The variety of job opportunities is enough to make your head spin. The FBI is recruiting hired guns.
Then there's the familiar animal mascot: you know, AFLAC.
"Everybody knows the duck, they just don't know what we do," said Mark Butler with AFLAC.
Butler and his team are recruiting sales people. The best candidates will face a two interview assessment.
"First interview is always an exploratory interview, just to get to know them a little bit and talk about the job some. Then we see if we can make something happen from there," he said.
Keicia Bowman is anxious for something to happen. She's a single mom who's been hunting for work since May.
"I didn't expect that many people. I came here at nine thirty and it was packed. So, it just let's you know how bad we are looking for jobs down on the coast," Bowman said.
Employers in a hiring mode, found plenty of possibilities here.
"If anybody needs somebody like me, I'm your girl," said a laughing Kathy Reid.
If you weren't able to make it to Tuesday's job fair, you can always search for local jobs on WLOX.com.