JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — Go big or go home.
AIM Worldwide Services seems to have taken that approach when it comes to filling 100 positions at Camp Atterbury serving the needs of Afghan evacuees transitioning through central Indiana on the way to their new lives in America.
The response to the call for applicants was so overwhelming, AIM staff cut off new walk-in applications and job interviews at midday today, halfway through its three-day job fair, in order to process all the names on its growing list by 5 p.m. Friday.
Applicants Wednesday lined up outside the doors of an Edinburgh Hotel near the outlet mall while others waited four hours or longer to speak to a recruiter in a ballroom Thursday.
“I heard they were offering decent pay for honest work, so I decided to come out and see if there was some opportunity in that,” said William Linder, who’s currently employed in the financial services industry. “It’s pretty hard if you don’t have a specialized field to make a living at one thing or another. With some of the ads that have been put forward, the pay is above average for all of the work that they are asking for. If they’re willing to pay that much and give the hours to support a household, great, that’s a great opportunity for anyone who can get it.”
AIM advertised it was filling janitorial and food services positions in support of the 6,000 evacuees who are currently being processed by military and Homeland Security personnel.
Pay estimates range up to $3,500 a week with overtime and applicants were told to expect to work 10-12 hours per day for perhaps seven days a week.
“It is interesting that they are paying so incredibly aggressive, but it’s a government contract,” said Christian Maslowski, president & CEO of Aspire Economic Development and Chamber Alliance in Johnson County. “It is pretty shocking that those wages are available for those jobs.”
Maslowski said Johnson County’s unemployment rate is about three percent and current hospitality and service jobs already make up a significant segment of the economy.
“Everybody is still competing and trying to find that next hire and it has not been easy and employers are getting creative,” he said, citing benefits and flexible hours for employees. “Those employers that are paying $20 an hour or more are having more luck.”
John Wilson is a veteran who already has military clearance and a job as a career counselor at Camp Atterbury.
Landing a custodial job paying $27 an hour with a potential 60+ hour workweek for a minimum of six months, and maybe more, was enough to convince him to take the day off work and stand in line to fill out an application.
Wilson said an added bonus was helping the Afghan evacuees on the base feel at home in their new country.
“That’s an awesome opportunity. I’m looking forward to that, just a different culture, just diversity, it’s awesome, I’m ready for it,” he said.
I asked Wilson what he would tell his boss about taking the day off to look for work.
“I love my job, but money, though,” he chuckled, “that’s pretty good. I’m a cleaner. A big cleaner.”
“You can push a broom for $27 an hour?” I asked.
“Yes, sir,” Wilson laughed. “Yes, sir.”