job-searchWhile Washington County is a place of rugged beauty, charming coastal villages, and hard working people, it is also an area with poverty, shoddy homes, and unemployment. Although we are blessed to have rural charm and various seasonal employment opportunities, some people have a difficult time finding jobs. In January, I was hired by a non-profit agency to help people get jobs, assisting people with job searches, interview skills, mock interviews, application preparation and resume writing. Getting extra help finding a job will only better a person’s chances of becoming hired.

Women Unlimited, whose mission is to “improve the economic well-being of Maine women, minorities, and disadvantaged workers by providing access to and support in trade, technical, and transportation careers,” is the organization running the job seeker assistance program I am working on. The objective is straightforward – helping people, men or women, enter the workforce. It is not a simple one, however. Some people find it challenging, daunting at times, getting prepared to stick out their necks to potential employers.

Making the Grade

Job seekers need to look polished for a position in order to be considered for it. They need to know how to write a proper cover letter, construct their resume and be prepared for an interview. Employers in Washington County are just as, or even more selective, than employers in other areas when choosing who they hire. They want to make the right choice because they know there are only a limited number of people capable of performing the tasks they want to be accomplished. Prospective employees need to recognize this and let it be known that they can handle the demands of a position.

Preparing a resume highlighting abilities and assets a person holds that are in accordance with the job they are looking for is a good first step. Correctly filling out a job application is important as well. An employer might disregard an application if one aspect of it does not look right. The application, cover letter, and resume might all fall into the trash. Getting individual help and an extra pair of eyes to review materials one sends to an employer can be advantageous.
One needs to make a good first impression on an employer by showing confidence in their abilities when interviewed. Thinking about what one can bring to a business or organization before going to an interview will better help job seekers respond to questions. Dressing appropriately and holding oneself in a respectful manner also helps. Having someone available to practice mock interviews will better ready the job seeker.

Considering our low population, and, therefore, little need for goods and services, there are fewer open jobs here than in cities. In December unemployment in Washington County was 7.6%, 2.1% higher than the national average. Although, according to Maine’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, “Professional and business services added 1,400 jobs from 2008 to 2012 and is expected to add another 3,500 jobs through 2022… The leisure and hospitality sector added 1,500 jobs between 2008 and 2012 and is expected to add 2,400 additional jobs through 2022.” So, although unemployment is higher than the national average in Washington County, there is still hope that the job market is expanding.

Many times full year job options are limited to the basic needs of the population – healthcare, education, and eldercare. It can be particularly difficult for people without a college degree or background in these disciplines to find work. However, there are support positions within professional fields people sometimes overlook, such as working as a janitor in a hospital, an administrative assistant in a medical office, or as substitute teacher. Knowing where to look for open vacancies is important. Although there are a number of on-line job search sites, it can be useful for the job seeker to have an advocate who may know about jobs that are not posted on-line but may be suitable for that particular job seeker.

Many people, regardless of education and ability, can also benefit from having someone help guide them down the road to employment. It helps having another person review materials that will be sent to employers for content, errors and formatting. If you or someone you know is looking for a job, Women Unlimited wants to help. To schedule a meeting, please call 207-213-3352, or email me at anne.favolise@yahoo.com. To learn more about what the organization does, or to make a donation, visit womenunlimited.org.

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