Muncie community members gathered at the Muncie Mall June 22 and 23 to look at the latest job opportunities local companies are offering.
Stores inside the mall including Rue21, Torrid, Spencer’s, Buyer’s Market, American Eagle, Icing, Finish Line and Tradehome Shoes were among the companies seeking employees.
Kelli Burnett, Muncie Mall communication manager, said Indiana ending its participation in federal pandemic unemployment assistance on June 19 motivated mall staff to collaborate with the City of Muncie and Indiana Works to broaden the employment offerings in the local community.
The Indiana unemployment rate spiked at 16.9 percent in April 2020 during the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported by Federal Reserve Economic Data. Burnett said while COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on employment, Muncie now has local businesses looking to hire for immediate openings. The job fair aimed to help Muncie residents find work close to home.
Brandy Wallace, East McGalliard Walgreens store manager, went to the fair to advertise each of the four Walgreens locations in Muncie are looking to fill multiple positions, including customer service associates, shipped leads, designated hitters and pharmacy technicians.
“The retention is not as much as it used to be — we've lost a lot during the COVID timeframe,” Wallace said. “And that is exactly why we're going to job fairs, because we're just not getting applicants like we used to.”
Dan Cooper, recruiter for Concentrix — a global customer service company that is currently looking for customer service representatives in health and technology — also attended the job fair. Neither of the Concentrix positions require experience except for three to six months in customer service.
“Employees can expect to take incoming calls for questions about billing and assisting with health insurance,” Cooper said. “The other position is a tech support line for a company that handles mobile phones, tablets and computers.”
Cooper said Concentrix transitioned to working from home a year ago and it has helped keep employees happy.
“I think especially for parents that are single parents or having issues with finding childcare — it's definitely brought in a lot more people — and I think it's brought more opportunities to them, so they can still provide for their family,” Cooper said.
Madison Chastain, a Spencer’s manager, said Spencer’s is looking to hire younger, energetic employees who are good with other people and have experience in customer service.
Chastain said Spencer’s is also looking for season associates for Spirit Halloween. She said all positions start at $10 an hour.
“We offer all employees a 30-percent discount on all items in the store. And then, once a month and on your birthday, you can get a 40-percent discount, which is pretty good,” Chastain said.
Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, said over the past two decades, the internet has largely replaced job fairs as a tool for finding work, but job fairs still offer their own benefits.
"Job fairs are likely a waning institution, whose chief goal is to connect with workers who are not internet savvy, or to provide an in-person screening opportunity for businesses,” Hicks said via email.
Employers who joined the job fair are still recruiting employees after the end of the job fair. Anyone seeking employment can apply to the respective company websites and look for more information for the roles they are interested in.
“Both employers and workers wish to find a match at the lowest cost,” Hicks said. “In the pre-internet days, job fairs were common ways for employers and employees to meet, share information and assess the potential compatibility of one another. In that way, they cut search costs for both employers and employees.”