They walked from blocks away, some wearing business suits and well-polished dress shoes while others had slipped on comfortable blue jeans and old sneakers.

The 600 High Desert Job Fair attendees who registered online simply showed up at designated times and walked into the event at Foremost Health Care Center in Hesperia. But the several hundred who came to Tuesday's fair without pre-registering waited in a long line that winded down a sidewalk, along a garden pathway, and into a parking lot.

"We have 600 pre-registered," said Yvonne Woytovich, CEO of the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event along with the City of Hesperia and Foremost Health Care Center. "Altogether we have around 1,000."

Once inside, job fair attendees got a chance to talk with recruiters from about 20 employers.

"There's all kinds of levels of jobs here," Woytovich said. "We want to help people find jobs and get back to work."

Many of the attendees were younger adults, some looking to land their first job or getting back into the job market after being laid off.

College student Salvador Alvarez, 20, spoke to Alicia Clark, a recruiter for St. Mary's Hospital in Apple Valley, about possibly becoming a nurse practitioner. But before landing a $50-per-hour job, he has to enter an accredited nurse practitioner program and get a job.

"I do need money to go to school," Alvarez said.

Natasha Lytle, who worked in customer service for five years before losing her job, is training in an administrative health manager associate degree program at San Joaquin Valley College in Hesperia. She too was looking for work.

"This is well organized," Lytle said.

Meanwhile, Robert Barton, a former emergency manager for the city of Victorville, said he was increasingly concerned that his formerly high salary and 50-plus age was putting him in a disadvantage.

"I was in upper management and over 50 (years old)," Barton said. "I've gone on job interviews where they ended up hiring younger, less-qualified applicants."

Although he had put away nearly a year's worth of salary before being laid off, he and his wife now depend exclusively on her music teaching business.

"My wife's business is all that's keeping us afloat," Barton said. "The money's gone, and we went into this as prepared as one can be."

And tough times have made Barton reevaluate his job priorities.

"I'm not willing to take a few steps backward," he said. "But I would."

The event was the second job fair organized the chamber in recent years. The first was put on by an outside firm, but Woytovich was pleased with how this year's event was going.

"So far it's been successful, and the feedback has been good."

Those who pre-registered online also filled out a questionnaire.

"About 48 percent have been out of work for a year or more," Woytovich said.

Complete results from the questionnaire will be available soon, she added.

"People are just depressed," said Andi Wagner, an administrative analyst for the City of Hesperia's Economic Development Department. "It's sad. There are a lot of frustrated job seekers. We just need to find more jobs for people."

Workforce Investment Board official offers several tips to job seekers

A few common-sense tips could give job seekers an advantage over their competition, said Gene Eisenbeisz, a supervisor with the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board:
Appearance matters. "People make judgements based on how you look. Dress according to the job you're looking for, and dress one step up."
Bring your resume. "They (resumes) only say positive things about you." Use your resume to your advantage and promote your experience and abilities.
Complete job applications. Too many people fail to complete job applications, which makes a poor impression with potential employers. Completely fill in each section of an application.
Prepare for the interview. "Practice describing your experience." Practice in front of friends or family members, or alone in front of a mirror. And, Eisenbeisz said, "Every time you go on an interview you improve. The bottom line is be prepared."
Get into a group. "Get into a group of other people like you who can support each other and share job leads."
Develop a routine. "Every day look for a job, otherwise you'll get depressed."
Follow up. Send a nice note on a note card thanking the person for the interview. "That sometimes makes the whole different. You want to put your best foot forward, and express interest in the position."