Hundreds of unemployed job seekers climbed the stairs Thursday at the Cajundome to talk to nine companies that are hiring, far fewer than at LAGCOE 2013, when almost 30 oil and gas service companies sought employees.

The recruiters said the makeup of those job seekers runs the gamut, from young with little experience to middle-aged managers who got pink-slipped this year. Others are experienced tradesmen, and they had a better chance finding work Thursday, though it wasn’t in the upstream oil and gas industry.

Clifford Calais, a 33-year-old diesel mechanic, stood in line for help completing his résumé. Calais was laid off in March from drilling company Hercules Offshore.

“They cold-stacked a lot of those jack-up rigs,” Calais said.

Since March, he said, he’s tried to stay busy around his home in Cecilia, where he lives with his wife and three children.

“I’m looking for mechanic or maintenance work,” he said. “That’s what I like, to work with my hands.”

Calais may be in luck, as two recruiters for the Lafayette office of national waste hauler and recycler Republic Services stood nearby. The company, they said, is looking for mechanics and drivers.

Billy Stimelski, of Republic, said he and co-worker Terri Carrier received a couple of résumés that looked promising.

Stimelski said most of those seeking work had been laid off from the oil patch.

“We saw a lot of (production) operators. We saw a lot of guys (who had been) in management,” Stimelski said.

Axiall Corp., a Fortune 500 company with industrial operations across the world and in Lake Charles, needs electricians, instrument technicians, welders and fitters, said company recruiter Melissa Portie.

She said an industrial boom in Lake Charles and at refineries and petrochemical plants to the west of the city has created an opportunity for oil and gas craftsmen who lost their jobs.

“We want their expertise as well as their experience,” she said. “We want that safety-minded man and woman. We have lots of opportunities for those workers.”

The organizers of the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition have made employment a central theme of LAGCOE. In October 2014, an off year for the biennial oil show, LAGCOE Executive Director Angela Cring decided to make career fairs a yearly event during October.

LAGCOE marketing coordinator Lauren Rabalais said organizers this year “added a focus on supporting energy professionals in transition” and added seminars that gave advice from writing a résumé to staying motivated.

Early Thursday, there was a session for military veterans seeking work.

Nick Forrester lost his job with The Wood Group as a production operator. Forrester, an active-duty National Guardsman with the rank of specialist E4, dropped by the career fair to see what was available.

“I came with a stash of résumés and my certifications,” said the 23-year-old 2010 Comeaux High School graduate.