PITTSFIELD -- Some came clad in coats and ties, others in T-shirts and sneakers.
But they all had the same goal: to find a job.
More than 400 job seekers descended on Pittsfield’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Thursday to attend the ninth annual job fair sponsored by the BerkshireWorks Career Center.
It was one of the most well-attended job fairs that BerkshireWorks has sponsored in several years, according to Director John Barrett III.
And, the difference between this year’s job fair and some of the previous events was that many employers were actually hiring.
"Everyone does have open positions for the most part," said Barbara Emanuel, a marketing and business services representative for BerkshireWorks. "That’s a very encouraging sign for the economy."
There were 68 entities in attendance Thursday, about 10 more than last year, Emanuel said. They included 60 employers, four training/educational providers and four community resource organizations.
"There are more manufacturers this year," she added.
More employers may be looking for workers, but there’s still a lot of competition for the positions that are available. The Berkshire unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, and even though the number of employed in the county is at its highest level in 11 months, 4,953 residents are currently receiving unemployment compensation, according to the state.
Arten Zeygerman, of Pittsfield, hoped to beat the odds on Thursday by wearing a jacket and a tie.
"It’s my experience that you need to make a good first impression," said Zeygerman, 30. "I hope that by being well-dressed it provides a good jumping off point."
Zeygerman was one of the more-qualified applicants to attend the job fair. He holds a physics degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and spent five years working in research and development before being laid off two years ago.
He said one company liked his experience and background, but didn’t offer him a job because it would have had to pay him too much.
"They tell you in person that you’re (a strong) candidate, but then they tell you that you have too much experience," Zeygerman said. "It’s a letdown. Disheartening."
On the other end of the scale were Cailey Rodda and Jose Bermudez, both of Pittsfield, who attended the job fair with their daughter, Maelavee, who was born six weeks ago. Rodda, 22, and Bermudez, 20, both have high school degrees. They were laid off from their previous positions, but don’t have a lot of job experience.
"You need experience," Bermudez said, "but how can you get that experience if they don’t give you a chance?"
To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
On Twitter: @tonydobrow