Long Beach job seeker talks unemployment, job search strategy

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Brian Watt/KPCC

Trevon Porter waited in line on Aug. 31, 2011 for a jobs fair put on by the Congressional Black Caucus in L.A.

This week thousands of people lined up in South L.A. for a chance to meet 170 potential employers.

One business with jobs to fill was Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). Recruiter John Wesley attracted a lot of job seekers to its table. "This orange card gets you to the website. You must have a profile, must visit BNSF.com/careers and complete yourself a profile. It’s gon’ be there as long as you want it to be. OK?"

Trevon Porter, 24, of Long Beach was on the receiving end of that exchange. Porter told Wesley that he’d already created a profile and applied for a job. Porter studied at Tuskegee University in Alabama.

Porter says he's trying to find an entry-level position that he can work his way up from. He recently got let go from full-time temp work as a warehouse clerk with a medical supplies and distribution company. He's working part-time at the YMCA as a referee.

"It's been kind of rough," Porter says. "It's just kibbles and bits right now."

His hours were eliminated by the temp agency. "The work slowed up, which a lot of temp agencies have, and they told me that until the work picked back up and they have enough money to distribute for more hours, that I have to be off."

He says he was working for that same company for over two years because they liked his work ethic. "But it's always hard when I get laid off and I got to scramble again. I've been out there grinding every day. I wake up, like a 9 to 5, and I just put in applications until it's time to go to work, until I get back to work."

Porter says he's trying to stand out from the pack. "But a lot of people, and I know a lot of job fairs, they have a notation of telling you to go online. There's a million people going online, I'm trying to see what can I do to distinguish myself so that I stick out and I can actually be one of the applicants that you pull out."

He says he feels better after visiting with the Burlington Northern recruiter. "But like I said, actions speak louder than words, so I'll shoot him an email followup, and then once something comes about, that's when I'll start feeling better about it. But right now, it's still cutthroat."

KPCC's Mike Roe contributed to this report.

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