A $63 million DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Reading has risen in downtown Reading, with construction to end in late October, and 170 new jobs soon will be filled.
That is thanks to the job fair Tuesday that drew 1,800 people to Santander Arena on the 700 block of Penn Street in the downtown – directly across from the 209-room, urban rustic-style hotel that is anticipated to be an anchor for the city and an economic driver for surrounding businesses and Berks County.
The fair was to be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., but the crowd by 8 a.m. already had started to build, so the hotel’s general manager, Craig Poole, opened the doors at 8:30 a.m.
“It went outstanding,” Poole said. “It was better than expected.”
Poole had 25 of his senior management team on hand to conduct the fair while he worked the crowd of applicants. The line wrapped around the block.
He said he walked the line and thanked each person for attending, telling them that the DoubleTree will be a happy place to work.
“If you’re not a happy person, then it’s not for you,” Poole said he told applicants.
Once the applicants made it inside Santander Arena, there were tables set up for each hotel department.
There were applications to fill out, and each person was asked five of the same questions, including one that asked what he or she thinks about Reading. Poole said that if anyone said anything negative about Reading, that application was bypassed.
“If they hate where they live, they’re going to hate where they work,” he said.
Poole said he and his management staff are looking for people with skills, but more importantly, he said, they have to have the happiness factor and a fire in them.
“I saw people that wanted a job so bad,” he said. “They want to go to work. The desire to work was overwhelming.”
Three hundred candidates from the fair will get a second interview. From that, about 170 will be hired for full-and part-time jobs. Poole and his team expect to begin contacting people as early as next week.
Once the hiring is done, the staff will go through training, including about the brand and culture. All positions will start at a wage that is higher than minimum wage, Poole said.
Poole said it was emotional to see so many people who need jobs.
“Our team didn’t realize how fortunate they are to have a job until they saw how many people don’t,” he said.