Joe Tucker was one of hundreds of people who felt confident Wednesday that he would have a new job soon.
"Once I get in I can move up quickly," he said. "All I need to do is get in there."
He said he has the experience for several different jobs and his ability to drive a forklift on a busy loading dock could help him get hired at a local warehouse. So he figured the Airport Corridor Job Fair, which hosted 58 companies in need of workers, would have several employers that would take interest in his skills.
"It gives us an opportunity to look for jobs we may not have looked for on our own," Tucker said as he and a couple of friends compared notes on potential employers.
Organizers estimated the fair drew about 3,000 job seekers, about twice as many as the event attracted a year ago. Janice Miller, economic development analyst for the city of Stockton, was excited to see so many people come out to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds for the fair.
"The flow has not stopped since we opened the door," she said. "I had someone here at 8 a.m. and had to turn him away and said, 'Come back at 10.'"
Miller said the fair is designed to benefit employers and job-seekers, and as she watched people talk and fill out job applications she said the event had met its goal.
"The main focus is to try to bring jobs to the people who live here," she said. "We tried to get employers who are close to home."
The companies had about 1,200 jobs open, and employers ranged from those that are hiring a couple-hundred people to those who have only a few openings but hope to find experienced workers in search of long-term employment.
A variety of jobs at a wide range of pay were available. Diamond Foods of Stockton needs warehouse workers to stack cases on pallets for $6.75 per hour and also needs mechanics and electricians who earn up to $24 per hour.
"There have been some good candidates coming through, especially for the machine operator and mechanic positions," said Pamela Patée, administrative assistant for Diamond, which is the distributor for local walnuts and almonds.
John Mullin, a recruiter with Swift Trucking of Phoenix, said a job fair provides his company with candidates that have a range of qualifications. The company has 400 job openings for truck drivers across the U.S., including some at its Lathrop terminal.
He said the workers he seeks don't need much education, but they do need a clean driving record and would have to pass a background check. They also have to be able to live in a big-rig for days on end.
"You get such a mix of people," he said. "If I give out 30 applications, I'll get 10 back and I'll be able to hire five of those."
The job fair is also a chance for people to refine their job-search skills.
San Joaquin WorkNet was on hand to help people fill out applications or polish their resumes.
"The majority of them are prepared," said Linda Stirm, a job-search instructor with WorkNet. "Some need critiquing on appearance, preparation and interview skills, but they all seem eager.
Contact reporter Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org.