Employment counselor Jerry Pruitt helps job seeker Justin Hazel fill out a master application at the Department of Workforce Services on Kane Creek Blvd. Job seekers must have a master application or resume to enter the job fair to be held Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center. [Photo by Kristin Millis / Moab Sun News]

The tourist season is fast approaching. As it does, employers are searching for employees; job seekers are looking for work.

A job fair to bring the two together will be held the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC).

“The goal is to connect employers who are looking for staff with people who are looking for jobs,” said Kelly Thornton, a workforce specialist with Utah Workforce Services.

This is the second year that Utah Workforce Services has held the job fair right before the tourism season begins in Moab. Twenty-two businesses were at last year’s fair, seeking employees for both seasonal and year-long positions. Tour companies, restaurants, hotels were hiring, as were companies such as Synergy and Mountain America Credit Union.

“In the first hour we had reports of six job offers and numerous interviews set up,” Thornton said.

Last year Workforce Services asked job seekers to have a master application or resume with them before entering the job fair. It will be the same this year.

“If they show that to us, we’ll give them a ticket to go into the job fair,” Thornton said.

Thornton said there is a blank application on the Utah Workforce Services Web site that can be filled and downloaded. She said that she and other employees at the Workforce Services office on Kane Creek Blvd. are available to help job seekers fill out applications, or create a resumes to prepare for the job fair.

“If you have all that ahead of time, it’s a lot less stressful,” Thornton said. “We just want to make sure that people are ready to talk to employers.”

Last year sixty percent of the job seekers at the fair had their applications and resumes ready. For the other 40 percent, there was an area set up where they could complete an application before entering the fair.

The job fair is co-sponsored by the Moab Chamber of Commerce, USU’s Moab Business Resource Center, Moab BEAR, and Moab Economic Development.

Sarah Sidwell from Tag-a-long Expeditions will be looking for new employees at the job fair.

“We have several different positions to hire for and I will be taking applications for all of them,” Sidwell said.

Tag-a-long is hiring river and 4×4 guides, drivers and office staff.

“Personality is the most important thing we look for. We can train whatever skills are needed. For a guide, we are looking for people who are eager to learn everything about this area and tell stories to the guests,” Sidwell said. “We want guides who are going to be interested in the guests and be outgoing.”

Sidwell said they are looking for people who are outgoing and have a “can-do” attitude.

“We want guides that have both a team spirit and an ego,” Sidwell said.

There are certifications that guides need, but all of these can be gained after being hired and going through the training program that Tag-a-long provides.

Sidwell said that to be called back the following year, that guides need to have kept a positive attitude and worked with others well.

“They also need to have the ability to learn and execute the technical aspects of their job well,” Sidwell said.

She said guides with too many guest complaints, fellow employee complaints, or repeated errors in technical maneuvering will be let go and not asked to return.

“To be asked back, a guide needs to have kept a positive attitude and worked with other guides, office staff, and support staff well,” Sidwell said.

They also need to have the ability to learn and execute the technical aspects of their job well, such as rowing boats through rapids and negotiating tricky sections of trail, she said.

Utah’s unemployment rate continued to drop last month when it fell to 4.1-percent, the lowest it’s been since late 2008. Utah’s jobless rate has remained below 5-percent since March 2013, well below the national unemployment rate at 6.7 percent in December.

However, because of the seasonal nature of the tourism related businesses in Grand County, unemployment numbers are higher in the area.

Unemployment rates in Grand County traditionally fluctuate between a low of 5-percent during the tourism season and spike to 18 to 20-percent during the winter.

In April 2013, the unemployment rate in Grand County was at its highest at 16.5-percent. It dropped to a low of 5.2-percent in July.

The City of Moab’s economic development analyst, Ken Davey, said that over the past couple of decades the tourism season has started earlier and has ended later.

“All the evidence we’ve had for the past year is that we can expect more visitors to come to Moab,” Davey said. “That means businesses here will need more people to handle that business.”

Davey said that many of the seasonal businesses are choosing to keep their employees busy during the off-season.

“More companies are recognizing that keeping employees working over the winter can save them money by reducing unemployment insurance costs,” Davey said. “Companies are charged more the more unemployment claims they have. If they keep people working and generating income, they don’t have to pay higher insurance costs.”

Seasonal and year-long employment opportunities available

“The goal is to connect employers who are looking for staff with people who are looking for jobs.” 

When: 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 11

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North

Cost: Free to both employers and job seekers

More info: Job seekers are encouraged to have a resume and master application.