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Sykes to Hire 400

February 24, 2010

By ANNABELLE ROBERTSON

The local branch of an international company will hire as many as 400 people in the coming months.

According to Stephanie Cetti, site director for SYKES, a provider of customer contact and services to Fortune 1000 companies around the world, the Sumter office is currently recruiting for several new clients.

“We will be doing some substantial hiring between now and the end of the year,” she said. “Probably about 400 people.”

The company currently employs about 100 people. It is holding a two-day job fair that concludes today at Sumter Mall. At midday on Wednesday, Cetti estimated that she had seen about 100 people.

Leianne Pennycuff, 22, was one of them.

Pennycuff, a native of Nashville, Tenn., moved to Sumter two months ago to join her sister, Katie Riley, whose Air Force husband is stationed here. Pennycuff, who has several years of retail experience and has also worked as a bartender, has been looking for work ever since. She describes the local employment situation as “hellacious.”

“I haven’t found anything,” she said. “It’s been hard.”

At 12.6 percent, South Carolina currently has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country. Sumter County had the 25th-highest rate in the state at the end of December, with 14 percent of residents receiving unemployment benefits. Clarendon County was 14th, with a rate of 17 percent. And at 16.4 percent, Lee County was 17th.

Nationwide, the jobless rate held steady at 10 percent in December for the second straight month.

John Timmons, program manager of workforce development for the state Department of Social Services in Columbia, said SYKES’ announcement is welcome news.

“With (more than) a 12 percent unemployment rate, this is good,” he said. “It’s a blessing. It shows that there are indeed opportunities out there.”

Cetti said SYKES has numerous positions available for call center agents, support staff and management. Some are for a technology client and require at least basic computer knowledge. The other jobs are for a financial services company and will involve providing customers with answers about their balances, interest rates and other account information.

“Some ability to understand financial concepts and good customer support skills are important,” Cetti said about the requirements for the job.

Pennycuff, who has plenty of experience with customers, said that she was excited about the possibility of finally finding a job.

“They said they would call me back within two weeks for a second interview,” she added, with a big grin.

SYKES will continue to interview throughout the day today at the mall.

“We are planning on hiring from the candidates,” Cetti said. “The unemployment is very high here, so the labor market is really good right now.”

NEED A JOB?

For information about possible employment with SYKES, visit the company today at the Sumter Mall, where you can fill out an application, watch a video about the company and participate in a preliminary interview. You can also visit www.sykes.com or call (803) 774-7901. Please do not call The Item.

(This story was originally published on Feb. 25, 2010 in The Item, and is used with permission from The Item. For more, visit www.theitem.com.)



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