Angie worked for her last employer for over five years, and the employer before that for seven. Her last job was with a client of her former employer who hired her away. So when she found herself without a job after over a decade of solid employment, she did what she had always done before - she opened the Sunday paper.
"I was shocked." she said. "The job section was practically non-existent. The jobs that were there all referred you to websites to apply. It used to be that if you were a professional, you mailed, faxed or emailed a resume, then called someone to follow up. Now, you have to go to a website, put your application in, upload your resume and hope someone calls you back. Sometimes you don't even know what company you're applying with."
She goes on. "Luckily, my sister-in-law told me about Goodwill Workforce Solutions, and they told me about Craig's List. I was leery at first...you hear about things like prostitution and drugs and dogfighting on Craig's List, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to look for a job there, but I don't have much choice. That's where all the jobs are at."
Angie isn't alone. Many people, especially the over 40 crowd, feel a little intimidated when applying for jobs now. A walk into Walmart, Dollar General or Dollar Tree to ask about hiring will get you referred to a website. If you aren't the most computer savvy person in the world, finding a job can be a real challenge.
To make things even harder, the majority of South Carolina Works centers were closed by Governor Nikki Haley within the last couple of years, moving most of those services online as well. This means that unless you find a job by word of mouth, your resources are severely limited when trying to find hiring employers.
The good news is that there are people and organizations willing to help those who are re-entering job search after many years employed, or after an extended period of unemployment. Goodwill Workforce Solutions, mentioned above, is one excellent source of help. Almost every county has a location, and these offices are staffed with patient individuals used to working with people who may be intimidated by computers or the internet, or who may not know how to start a job search.
Another good resource is the local library. After the close of the SC Works centers, many libraries took on part of the duties these centers performed, including helping people search for job websites. Those recently unemployed will also find help with applying for unemployment benefits and job training as well.
Two more resources are www.monster.com and www.careerbuilder.com. At these sites a seeker can enter keywords and locations to help narrow down a search to the exact type of job they are looking for. And then there's www.indeed.com, which pulls jobs from all over the internet and puts them in one place, and when a seeker clicks on the job they are interested in, it will take them to the listing site whether it be another job site like Monster or CareerBuilder, the hiring company's own website, or even Craig's List.
And speaking of Craig's List: Yes, there are some really scary people on Craig's List. No question about that. However, if job seekers remember a few simple rules when searching for a job anywhere, they should be able to stay safe.
1. NEVER PUT A DATE OF BIRTH OR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ON A RESUME. This is a mistake that well meaning people commit all of the time, yet it can leave them vulnerable to identity thieves. A social security number and date of birth should only be given to an employer on a legitimate job application or after hiring. If they ask for it before, demand to know why they need it (sometimes it's for a background check, but even then you should have a signed conditional job offer before you hand that info over.)
2. IF YOU HAVE TO PAY MONEY, IT'S PROBABLY A SCAM. Job seekers will find many many job offers on Craig's List that say "Make tons of money every day! Just pay a $39.95 application fee (or buy this book) and you too can be getting big checks in the mail." The only time someone should have to spend money to get a job is if they are paying for either a SLED check (which you will pay for at the Law Enforcement Center) or possibly for a drug test, although in most cases the employer pays for this and if the new employee is responsible for part or all of it, it will be deducted from future earnings. Remember the old saying "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?" Well, it's an old saying for a reason. Reputable employers and recruiters will never charge anyone for hiring them or getting them hired.
3. IF THERE IS EVEN THE SLIGHTEST QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER A JOB IS LEGITIMATE, DO A GOOGLE SEARCH. Say you see an ad that says "I need ten people to work at the mall demonstrating our newest product. It practically sells itself! $20/hour, come to the food court and dress professionally." The company on the ad is Smith And Jones, Inc. Go to www.google.com, and in the search bar type "Smith And Jones Scam" (of course, substituting the company you're wondering about). There's a good chance that if these people are scam artists, someone will have written about it someplace. Not finding anything doesn't meant they aren't scammers, but when people get ripped off, they like to write about it to vent and to warn others.
4. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS IN THE JOB POSTING TO THE LETTER. Recently a job recruiter wrote a blog where she stated that when her company posts a job, they require three things - a cover letter, a resume, and a joke. Yes, a joke. She says she does this for two reasons -- if people don't submit all three, their resumes get trashed because if someone can't follow directions when applying for a job, why should she believe they'll follow directions once they have the job? As for the joke, it helps them weed out people who might behave unprofessionally. If the joke submitted is sexist, racist, sexually or otherwise inappropriate, she knows not to call this person in for an interview. After all, if this person will submit this kind of joke to apply for a job, what kind of joke might they tell the customer?
5. ALWAYS TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING, WHO YOU ARE SEEING AND WHEN YOU EXPECT TO BE BACK WHEN GOING TO AN INTERVIEW. Does this sound like common sense? Yes. But especially when going on an interview with someone you've never actually talked to (maybe you've done all your conversing via email and text message) it's important to protect yourself, whether you are a man or a woman. People have been assaulted, robbed, raped and even killed going to what they thought were job interviews. You can even take someone with you, just don't take them in to the actual interview.
Job hunting in the new millennium is different. Don't be afraid to ask for help, don't be afraid or too proud to use available resources, and keep an open mind. Anyone who follows these rules will find their job search much easier.