Hard Rock Biloxi Hosts Job Fair

Monday's job fair opened at 11:00. Ten minutes after it opened, more than 500 people walked through the front door and picked up applications.

"Good morning. Come on up, y'all," a greeter told the crowd. "Remember, sit at the table of the job you're applying for."

A smiling Joe Billhimer wandered through the crowd, occasionally stopping to shake hands with people he recognized.

"Welcome. Glad to have you," he said to one acquaintance.

Billhimer orchestrated not only this job fair, but every move Hard Rock has made since it got permission to open in downtown Biloxi.

"We put all of our resources into these next three days," he said, "to really sit down and talk to all of these people."

Hundreds of people filled out Hard Rock applications. They're hoping to land one of the nearly 1,500 jobs being offered by the downtown Biloxi resort.

Anthony Pitalo found out that with this company, applying for a job is easier if you remove your tie.

"What happened to my tie?" he asked. "They told me my brain couldn't breathe while I was wearing it."

Hard Rock wants to be unique. So it pumped music through the convention center to give applicants the feel of what Hard Rock will be like. Pitalo felt right at home.

"I've been in the business for five months. This is where I want to grow right here," he confidently said.

Dan Brautman may have won the "longest trip to apply" award. Brautman drove 18 hours from Detroit -- through a tropical storm -- to interview with Hard Rock's casino department.

"This is a hometown. Everyone down here is friendly," Brautman said. "It fits my personality."

Personality -- that's a word Hard Rock's Billhimer like to use to describe his resort.

"It's going to be such a different working environment than what people are used to along the coast," the Hard Rock executive said.

Many of the people Billhimer referred to already have casino jobs. So why are they applying at Hard Rock? Simple, said Beverly Myers, because it doesn't hurt to make a change.

"A lot of people need a job," she said, "or other people came here like me, looking for that job opportunity elsewhere."

The $235 million Hard Rock Biloxi should open in early September. Its job fair continues Tuesday and Wednesday at the coliseum convention center.