Career fair held in Guilford County to recruit first responders

Piedmont Triad News

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — They put their lives on the front lines and now they’re calling in for backup.

Public service agencies across Guilford County are hoping to fill hundreds of openings.

On Thursday, more than 60 job seekers stopped by the public service career fair in Greensboro, organized by GuilfordWorks.

Numerous recruiters from law enforcement, emergency services and other government agencies were there.

“It’s almost like we kind of have to jumpstart people again,” said Joanette Freeman, the human resources director for Guilford County Government.

Job openings have increased in public service agencies leaving burnout as a concern for current staff.

“We’re having mandatory overtime, volunteer overtime,” said Kimberly Hooker, the hiring coordinator for Guilford Metro 911.

Fourteen seats that would normally be manned are empty at Guilford Metro 911.

“The job is challenging,” Hooker said. “It can be very stressful and that may be some of the reasons that we haven’t been able to fill our positions.”

Recruiters for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office are looking to fill 84 openings. It includes 24 deputies and 57 detention officers.

“It would be better if we had our vacancies filled so that one person wouldn’t have to do multiple jobs,” said Sgt. M. Buchanan, a recruiter for the sheriff’s office.

There are 14 openings at High Point Fire and Rescue.

“We have people leaving, the retirement process, the rollovers and everything,” Capt. Orlando Craven said. “We just have to bring more people in.”

Craven was at the career fair trying to recruit new candidates to help take some of the burden off his crews.

“It’s all about being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “With the numbers being short and then you have people out sick, it increases that overtime load.”

Down the street, the High Point Police Department is 30 officers short.

Even when an applicant looks promising it doesn’t always pan out as Greensboro police Sgt. Angela Anderson has learned.

“The problem is trying to get people to continue in the process throughout because we do have people who stop communicating with us or withdraw,” she said.

Anderson is trying to select 40 recruits for the Greensboro Police Academy class in the spring.

Recruiters like Anderson are thinking outside the box, from QR codes, social media and career fairs.

Some are even taking applicants with no experience.

“You can come in day one not knowing anything,” Craven said. “We train you how to be a firefighter.”

Recruiters are also offering flexible schedules, more paid time off and other benefits to get people in the door.

“We’ve been short and we always work through it,” Hooker said.

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