CHICAGO (CBS) — Employers created 243,000 new jobs in January, and the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, its lowest point since February 2009.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker takes a look at one Chicago business that is helping job numbers up and plans to hire even more workers.

Paladin Nathaniel has only been driving a school bus for a few months. He was a homeless, unemployed social worker until last August when he walked into a jobs fair at Chicago State University.

“Before, I was very stressed, depressed, angry,” Nathaniel says.

But he was also eager to work. When he finally got a chance to visit the recruiters, he had caught the eye of Mary Luckey, who is in charge of the hiring process at Cook Illinois Corporation.

“I really liked his smile,” Luckey says.

His smile may have attracted the recruiter, but he was just one of 100 job seekers who applied for a position that day. Nathaniel was among 10 who passed a criminal background check, a written test and scored high marks during the interview.

“He looked in my eyes and never looked away. To me, eye contact is first and foremost,” Luckey says.

Nathaniel’s advice to those attending job fairs is to go to different vendors, even if it’s not in your work field.

“Sometimes, you have to think outside the box just to get a foot in the door,” he says.

To Nathaniel, getting the job meant being able to afford a place of his own and help his youngest daughter with college expenses.

“It felt good to be able to know I was going to be able to afford the things that I need to take care of as a human being and not have to worry about where I was going to lay my head the next day,” he says.

To learn more about the Cook Illinois Corporation, send an email to

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