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Hundreds flock to the first day of State Farm’s job fair in Tacoma

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on July 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
July 16, 2013 3:44 pm
Jean Mansour, in a red shirt, is a recruiter/analyst for State Farm. He led a group of applicants to a pre-screening session at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma on Tuesday. State Farm is holding a two-day career fair to fill  500 positions at its new offices downtown Tacoma. Photo by Lui Kit Wong, staff photographer
Jean Mansour, in the red shirt, is a recruiter/analyst for State Farm. He led a group of applicants to a pre-screening session at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma on Tuesday. State Farm is holding a two-day career fair to fill 500 positions at its new offices downtown Tacoma. Photo by Lui Kit Wong, staff photographer

Downtown Tacoma’s newest big employer is hiring, and it has no shortage of candidates.

People came to the Hotel Murano’s Bicentennial Pavilion by the dozen on Tuesday, trying to land a job at State Farm. Doors to the job fair opened at 10 a.m. and the line to register for an interview was in the double-digits for hours.

The company wants to hire about 500 people. Before the job fair even began, more than 1,000 people had filled out applications online.

Angela Campbell of Puyallup graduated from Highline Community College in December and has been looking for work ever since.

“I’ve been taking extra classes, just to keep fresh,” she said, before heading in to the first of two interviews. “I’m looking for any opportunity.”

Alisi Gucake of Tacoma shares a laugh with State Farm recruiter Greg Gonzales during an interview Tuesday at the Hotel Murano. Photo by Lui Kit Wong, staff photographer
Alisi Gucake of Tacoma shares a laugh with State Farm recruiter Greg Gonzales during an interview Tuesday at the Hotel Murano. Photo by Lui Kit Wong, staff photographer

The Illinois-based insurance giant announced in late April its plans to expand its operations to downtown Tacoma. Company officials have said it plans to ultimately employ 1,100 people.

The approximately 500 people hired from this job fair will begin this fall. About half will work in the company’s Auto Express claims area, which will be at the Columbia Bank Center at 1301 A St. Annual salary for those jobs start at $31,500. The other half will begin work in the company’s so-called Initial Loss Reporting Center at the former Russell Investments headquarters at 909 A. St. Annual salary for those jobs is $27,000.

Neither job requires a college degree, and both will be part of customer-service operations that run 24 hours a day.

State Farm officials outlined the total compensation package Tuesday, including some items long gone from many large corporate employers. Recruiter Jonathan Ybanez went through the list, highlighting the 401(k) match and a fully funded pension.

“In case some of you don’t know about what a pension is, since lots of companies don’t do them any more, that’s an extra retirement plan,” he said, explaining it was based on an average of the employee’s four highest annual salaries and length of service. “You add that to your 401(k) and your Roth IRA, and you have a nice retirement package there.”

The company also offers many opportunities for advancement, Ybanez said. “We’re a promote-from-within company.”

Candidates on Tuesday went through a brief orientation session, where human resource personnel explained the typical day of handling calls for claims. Then they were brought to the a large conference room for the first of two one-on-one interviews. In between was a session on employee benefits, which include health benefits, a casual dress code, 10 days of paid vacation in the first year, and additional paid time off for community service.

At the end of the interview process, candidates were told they’d be notified in about a week whether they’d been hired.

Kevin Peterman, 37, is an Army Reservist and a fulltime student at Pierce College. He said the company’s reputation for caring for customers was part of the appeal.

“It gives me another opportunity to help people,” he said. “Not many people have a nest egg, or a safety net. They want to know what happens to me now.”

The company’s stability is another draw. Douglas Molloy, 69, of South Hill, had worked in sales for decades until his former company went through a merger.

“I’m looking for a stable income,” he said. “Could I retire? No. I have income, but not enough. And after 40 years in sales, it might be nice to sit at a desk and get away from the commission system.”

The job fair continues Wednesday, July 17, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway.

 

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