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Official says hiring freeze won't hamper government career fair

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A government career fair held in the midst of a statewide hiring freeze might make attendees a little pessimistic about landing a job.

Not to worry, state officials say: there are plenty of open positions that need to be filled now or in the near future.

"If there was no intent to fill any positions in the near future, you know, we certainly wouldn't put this effort together," said Diane Holley-Brown, spokeswoman for the Department of Administration.

The Division of Personnel and WorkForce West Virginia are coordinating a state government career fair for Tuesday. Event planning was already underway March 19 when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called for a temporary hiring freeze, said Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin.

The freeze, in effect until June 30, doesn't apply to critical need jobs, Goodwin said. Those include nurses working for the Department of Health and Human Resources or state Veterans medical facilities, corrections officers or Child Protective Services workers.

"Yes, we're in the hiring freeze. That doesn't mean we can't be looking forward," Goodwin said.

Tomblin enacted the freeze at a time when tax revenues were projected to fall short by as much as $70 million. The revenue report for April, released Wednesday, showed a significant collections increase has closed the gap to roughly $14 million.

Even if a job is available right now and it's a critical need, the application and selection process takes time.

"By offering the job fair now, individuals interested will have the time to apply and complete any testing requirements so that they will be listed on the state register of available and approved candidates by summer," Holley-Brown said in an email.

About 400 people attended last year's fair, and Holley-Brown expected plenty to attend next week as well. She wasn't immediately sure how many landed jobs last year, or how many positions were currently open.

Other participating agencies include the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Technology, State Tax Department, State Police and the Library Commission.

Employers are looking in particular for accountants, child support workers, data entry operators, engineers, health care workers, social workers and IT specialists, Holley-Brown said.

The fair is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Culture Center. Attendees should bring resumes. More information is available at www.personnel.wv.gov.  

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.

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