SPRING HILL — Many of the 120 people who showed up Tuesday looking for work — competing for maybe 80 jobs — weren't too picky.
"I'll take anything," said Claudia Fernandez of Spring Hill, who was first in line for the job fair at Career Central on Forest Oaks Boulevard.
The sentiment was nearly universal among the job seekers as seven businesses, ranging from CiCi's Pizza to Bealls department stores in Spring Hill and Hudson, looked to fill temporary, mainly seasonal, vacancies.
Most of the jobs were entry-level positions, likely paying from the minimum wage of $7.65 to maybe $10 an hour, said Dianne Perkins, a business relations specialist for Career Central, which matches employers and employees in Hernando and Pasco counties.
A similar session will be held today in Pasco County from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Career Central office at 4440 Grand Blvd. in New Port Richey.
Fernandez, a 42-year-old who was a teacher in her native Argentina, worked part time until 2009 at a Hampton Inn and hasn't since. She arrived about 90 minutes before the doors opened Tuesday. About 40 people waited behind her, many with resumes in hand.
With Hernando County's unemployment at 10.8 percent, the highest in the Tampa Bay area, Shelby Kenngott of Spring Hill said she hunts for work every afternoon between the time her classes at a cosmetology school end and she picks up her daughter from day care.
She said she would take anything offered.
"I'm a single mom. I want to make sure I have a nice holiday for my little girl," she said. "I look for jobs every day. When I go shopping, I put in an application."
Kenngott, 24, has been out of work since the end of June, when a temporary receptionist position ended.
She doesn't understand why anyone would be choosy about work.
"There are people out there who are really picky about what they get. I don't think people can be picky now," she said.
Christian Concepcion, 28, felt some hope after making the rounds of employers at the job fair. The Spring Hill resident has been unemployed for two months since a job through a temporary employment service he'd had for three months ended. Before that, he was laid off from a pest control job he'd held three years.
"I'll take basically anything now. I feel pretty good. Some of them want me to apply in person. Hopefully I'll hear from them," Concepcion said.
Jill Campbell, though, wasn't feeling optimistic after she finished talking to the prospective employers.
An unemployed accountant, Campbell, 49, of Spring Hill, has two master's degrees and said the retail representatives may have viewed her as overqualified.
"It's not said in so many words, but I'm not hopeful about today," she said. "I'll take anything. But I'm single, so I have to be able to support myself."
Career Central holds job fairs in Hernando or Pasco about every other month. A job fair with 17 employers looking for health care workers on Aug. 28 drew 215 people, Perkins said.
Managers of the Bealls stores were more than pleased with the crop of job seekers that turned up Tuesday.
"I think we're going to do pretty well. We may be fighting over the best," said Clark Nash, manager of the department store in Hudson, who was looking to fill about 10 holiday openings. There were another 17 openings for the store on State Road 50 in Hernando County.
"The quality of the average applicant we talked to today is better than the average walk-in we get," he said. "There are eight I want to interview and five I'd probably give a job to now."