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Tales from a Job Fair

The line outside New York's Madison Square Garden started forming well before 6 a.m. These early risers on Oct. 25 weren't trying to score tickets to a Knicks game or a rock concert. They had a more pressing mission: getting a job. They came to fill out applications and shop their r?sum?s at the second Twin Towers Job Expo, an employment fair sponsored by New York City to help people who ended up unemployed after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The first Expo, held a week earlier, was overrun with an estimated 8,000 job seekers (see BW Online, "New York's Jobless Fill the Garden"). Expo II turned out to be no different. As many as 10,000 waited hours to get inside the building. Red Cross volunteers handed out bottled water, while recruiters dispersed flyers and talked up their job-placement services. The crowd basked in the attention. Who could blame them? Many have tried in vain for weeks or months to get even one employer to look at their r?sum?.

"It's a job to get a job," sighed Alan Roditi, a former senior technology manager at J.P. Morgan Chase. Like many others at Expo II, Roditi didn't get axed because of last month's tragic events. The merger between J.P. Morgan and Chase Manhattan Bank -- coupled with a lousy economy -- led to his recent dismissal. He had plenty of

company in line. Here's a sampling:

Alan Wellman, 37

Wellman recently lost his job at Siemens Business Services, a division of German electronics giant Siemens. His group was merged with an acquired company -- and layoffs were the unpleasant outcome. Many of his colleagues got sacked in September, so Wellman thought he had "beat the deadline" and was secure in his job as a senior account manager. Then his boss called on Oct. 10 and gave him the boot. He's working until the end of the month, but took the day off to attend Expo II.

Married with two young children, Wellman has blasted more than 70 e-mails to friends and colleagues asking for job leads. He'll get nearly four months' severance from Siemens, a generous sum considering that he worked there for only a year-and-a-half.

It isn't the first time Wellman has been slapped with a pink slip. An MBA grad

from New York University's Stern School of Business, he worked for awhile at an Internet startup as its vice-president for marketing and operations. That outfit folded in the dot-com bust. Now, Wellman wants to get into consulting. It could be tough going: Few consulting firms are aggressively hiring right now.

Nick Henry, 26

Henry knows what it's like to be "this close" to landing a job. He recently went on eight interviews for a marketing position at an investment management firm before being told that he was out of contention. Unemployed since April, Henry has blown through his severance and is now dipping into savings to pay the bills. He was an associate at J.P Morgan Chase in investment management and hopes to stay in financial services.

So far, the pickings have been slim. Henry has sent out about 150 r?sum?s, but few have resulted in interviews. The size of the crowd at Expo II surprised him, but he was willing to wait in line. "It's better than sitting at home and looking at," he said, referring to one of the mega online job boards.

Debra Ackie, 28

Ackie has been unemployed for only a couple of days, but she already has the job market figured out. "I don't believe that there are as many jobs as [employers] say there are," she said as she left Expo II. "They are swamped with r?sum?s." Ackie, who has a degree in finance, showed up at 6 a.m. to get into the fair. She's looking for work in accounting or human resources, two areas where she has experience. In her last job, she managed employee benefits at a large insurance company.

As a single mom raising three kids, Ackie can't wait around for the perfect opportunity. She's also applying for assistant manager positions at various retail chains. "I think I'll find something," she said confidently before heading off. Jan. 3 is her deadline: That's when her severance runs out.

Marc Carpentieri, 32

First, the good news: Carpentieri went on his first job interview this week. The bad news: He has been out of work since July, when he lost his tech-support job at Metromedia Fiber Network in New York. That gig lasted eight months, and he left with three weeks' severance. He's now collecting unemployment, but it barely covers his rent, credit-card bills, car payments, and insurance. His savings are dwindling.

The unemployment agency told him about a job in his field that paid $35,000 -- $17,000 less than what he made at Metromedia. He wasn't interested. "I don't want to take that big a pay cut," he said. If the job market remains weak, though, eventually Carpentieri may not have a choice. By Jennifer Gill in New York

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