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LAS VEGAS — Credit unions across the country have had to deal with slow loan volume and delinquencies as members have lost jobs and income. But rather than just tackle those challenges internally, one credit union here hosted a job fair for members that proved so popular it had to be moved to a larger facility.

And now the host of that job fair, WestStar Credi Union, is making plans to host a second such event.

With the unemployment rate in Southern Nevada hovering stubbornly at 14%, WestStar Credit Union planned the job fair as a means of assisting its members, most of whom are drawn from the gaming industry. Mona Joseph, AVP of business development for $139-million WestStar, said the idea of hosting a job fair started small.

"We were planning on having it in the upstairs of our headquarters, which would have held a couple hundred people," she recalled. "But it got so big we ended up hosting it at College of Southern Nevada, which donated the space."

As the event grew, other companies pitched in, Joseph told Credit Union Journal. Greenspun Media donated the advertising in exchange for promoting its job board at RecruitingNevada.com.

"We couldn't afford to spend the money to host a job fair, so this was great," she said.

The job fair took place Jan. 11, and more than 1,000 people showed up looking for work, she said. There were 3,000 jobs available from the numerous companies that were represented, including top gaming companies such as Caesars Entertainment, Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts and others, plus several gaming technology companies.

WestStar members received priority entrance to the job fair at 11 a.m. Later, the general public was allowed in after the members "had first shot," Joseph said.

"There were people waiting as early as 8 a.m., which we thought was really cool. Most of the people were really grateful. I don't think they knew that there were that many jobs available."

Planning Ahead

Due to its success, Joseph said WestStar already is looking forward to hosting another. But if there is one thing she would like to do better, it is giving people instructions on how to "work" a job fair.

"To really take advantage of the opportunities that are there people need to make eye contact and have a dialogue with the person at the booth," she said. "Then, later, send a hand-written note thanking them for their time. Make sure people remember you. When we do the next one we will give people tips on how to utilize the job fair to their advantage.

"All in all it was a huge success, and I hope other credit unions host job fairs in their communities," she added.

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