|By Margarita Bauza, Detroit Free
PressMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 15, 2008 - -- Eric Cleary, who recently moved back to Detroit from Houston to be close to family, noted the difference between the two cities as he stood in a line with thousands of people applying to work at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit on Monday.
"In Houston, job fairs like this have a hard time attracting people," Cleary said. "This is a reality check."
A certified pharmacy technician, Cleary said he has been unable to find a job in his field in Detroit and wants something to pay the bills to avoid returning to Houston.
"If, by the first frost, I don't get a job, I'm going back," he said.
Cleary was one of 3,300 people who applied for 250 jobs at the historic hotel since online recruiting opened to the public Friday, said the hotel's human resources director, Diane Tunstall.
Monday was the first day people could apply in person. Thousands were drawn to a recruiting center near the 455-room hotel, which is scheduled to open Oct. 1 after a $200-million restoration.
The hotel is hiring for jobs that pay an average of $10 an hour for positions in accounting, administration, banquets, engineering, food and beverage services, guest services, housekeeping and security.
"We're not necessarily looking for experience," said Tunstall, who was surprised to see people line up as early as 4 a.m. to fill out applications. "We're training for skills and hiring for attitude."
All day Monday, lines curved around the block of the hotel's recruiting center at 1226 Griswold. The center will be open through Aug. 29, and the first day of employment is Sept. 17.
Westin officials handed out flyers encouraging applicants to apply online rather than wait in line. But many waited, certain that a little face time would do them good.
"The line is long, but I feel if I go inside, I'll have a better chance," said Carmen Hawkins, 47, of Detroit. Hawkins said she has been working circulating petitions since 2005 but would like something more permanent.
Albert Martenis III, 25, who works as an online sales manager for Dick Genthe Chevrolet in Southgate, was among those waiting in line. The Detroit booster whose social life revolves around the city said he's ready to experience working downtown.
"I want youth and educated people to like coming down here and spend their money here," said the 2005 Northwood University marketing and advertising graduate.
Martenis said he would like to take a job in concierge services or in any area that allows him to talk about Detroit and its many entertainment possibilities.
DeAngelo Davis, owner of DeAngelo's Soulfood, Deli & More in Detroit, applied in his chef's uniform after a day's work.
"In this tight economy and because I'm a small business, I need benefits and things like that," Davis said. "Plus, the Book is a historic place in Detroit, and I want to be a part of what's going on."
Leza Piazza, 60, of Detroit was one of the last people to squeak in before the doors closed at 4 p.m.
A visitor services representative at the Detroit Institute of Arts, she went to the recruiting center at 1 p.m. to apply and was told that she'd have a shorter line if she used a library computer.
After she finished filling out her application, the Web site crashed. So, she was back at the recruiting center, where she was given a paper application to fill out.
"I've been blessed with people skills," said Piazza. "I am bilingual in English and Italian. I would like to be a concierge or work in the front-desk services."
"To have this happening here -- all these new hotels, a renovated DIA, casinos."
Piazza moved to Detroit from New York City two years ago when her great-grandchild was born. She said she loves her job at the DIA, but she can't live off of what she earns.
"I love the museum, but I don't make a lot of money, and I don't have benefits. I can always work here and become a member at the DIA and still enjoy it."
Contact MARGARITA BAUZA at 313-222-6823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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