Hiring squeeze: Burlington fills positions before next month’s opening

 

Interviewing during the Burlington Stores Job Fair at Delaware State University on Tuesday.  (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Interviewing during the Burlington Stores Job Fair at Delaware State University on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The odds may have seemed long, more than 500 job applicants for around 70 positions, but that didn’t stop persistent job hunters from seeking employment with Burlington Stores at its job fair at Delaware State University on Tuesday.

The lure of dozens of full- and part-time positions with Burlington — formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory — had prospective employees lined up at DSU’s Wellness Center as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Dawn Autman, of Dover. “Any new business for Dover’s great. I’ve been looking for a job for a while and it’s been tough. I’m applying for places everywhere and everybody wants you to go online and I never get any response.

“They sent me an email [on Monday] telling me about [Burlington’s job fair] and I thought, ‘Well, maybe if I can get a fair interview in person things will be different,’ because honestly, online it’s ridiculous. Most businesses are basically doing an interview online … and it takes a lot of your time away.”

Burlington officials and hiring staff met throughout the day with hopeful applicants. Résumés were handed over and interviews took place on the spot for those applicants who stood out.

Maryanne Cadmus, Burlington’s regional vice president for Maryland and Delaware, said the Dover store is targeted to open near the end of September at 515 N. DuPont Highway at a site that will be known as the Capital Commons — former home to longtime tenant Kmart, which closed in July 2014.

Ms. Cadmus said she and other company officials watched the Burlington sign get hung on its Dover location Monday night and it made it seem “very real.” Burlington’s future store sits on the north end of the refurbished building while a “Coming Soon” Big Lots sign hangs over the southern end.

Burlington has two other locations in Delaware in Newark and Claymont.

“We saw the sign go up [Monday], which was really terrific and then it hit us and it touched us … it’s very, very exciting,” Ms. Cadmus said. “And the community is excited, which is just unbelievable. They seem to be very excited to have us.”

Santina Sergi, regional human resources manager for Burlington, was overwhelmed at the response the company received at its job fair.

“I think we’re probably going to hit at least 500 [job applicants] before it’s all done,” she said. “These are part-time and full-time jobs, but mostly part-time. We’re a total store. We’re looking for cashiers, we’re looking for stock associates, loss prevention, really a little bit of everything.

“The turnout has been very good and I have to tell you I’m impressed with the quality [of job applicants] that’s come through and people dressed for the occasion, which is really nice. Just the excitement here has been really amazing.”

Nyraina Walker, from Philadelphia, was one of those many applicants just waiting for her chance to interview. Like Ms. Autman, she said this was a chance to talk to a prospective employer “face-to-face.”

“It’s really hard to find a job,” Ms. Walker said. “I think I put in 22 applications a day and I still don’t get any callbacks. I need a job, so that’s first, but I actually like clothing and fashion, so I felt like this would be a good opportunity.”

Burlington, a 55,046-square-foot store, will feature men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, accessories and footwear. It also will include furniture and accessories for babies, home decor and gifts. And, yes, it will also carry coats.

Burlington bills itself a national off-price retailer.

“It’s all about family,” Ms. Cadmus said. “We have everything for the entire family which is really terrific. It’s not just about coats. The whole family comes in and shops for everything they need from clothing to everything they need for their home.

“Actually, it’s all about community. We have such great product and value and we’re a very caring company, it’s a great organization and I think people know that and they love us for our value and our great customer service.”

It was Burlington jobs that attracted a crowd to Delaware State University’s campus on Tuesday.

Ms. Autman, who has a daughter preparing to begin college this fall, remained positive as she waited for dozens of others to interview before she got her turn.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” she said.

As for her daughter getting ready to start college, “She’s going — regardless,” Ms. Autman said.

Ms. Cadmus and Ms. Sergi said they were both “blown away” by the reception the company has received in Dover.

“The people of Dover have just absolutely been so welcoming,” Ms Sergi said. “Everywhere we’ve been people have just been so helpful.”

Ms. Cadmus added, “We really feel like we’re already a part of the community already and we haven’t even opened the doors yet.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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