ELKHART — For 25 years, Lynda Wilson smoothly transitioned from one job to another, always having something lined up to prevent dry spells without work.
Last May she was laid off, though, and on Tuesday she found herself at a workshop here meant to help those looking for gainful employ.
“I fit into that category — never had to look for a job before,” said the Elkhart woman, who’s held administrative jobs in the manufacturing sector.
The economy may be rebounding — unemployment in Elkhart County certainly isn’t as high as it was during the depths of the Great Recession — but that hardly means it’s smooth sailing for everybody. The county’s unemployment rate measured 8.9 percent in June, up 0.3 points from May, and mindful of such stats, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger, sponsored Tuesday’s gathering, dubbed a Job Seeker Workshop.
Around 50 people were on hand at the event, held at Indiana University Elkhart, hoping for a pointer or two on how to navigate the rough and ever-changing seas of job hunting. Most of the speakers came from WorkOne, part of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and Indiana University South Bend, offering presentations on how to use social media and marketing yourself, among other things.
“It’s more difficult,” said Wilson, dressed in a dark blue business ensemble. “Looking for a job is more time consuming.”
A FEW POINTERS
Some of the points brought up may seem obvious — dress well at an interview, for instance. But things have changed, especially with the advent of the computer and Internet to search and apply for work.
Indeed, here are a few of the many nuggets offered up Tuesday by Nancy Ross, a workshop instructor out of the South Bend WorkOne office. Many relate to use of computers and the Internet:
Learn your way around a computer, how to make a resume and how to submit one online to a potential employer. “You’re going to have to get digital because employers are digital,” she said. Employers “need to know that you’re comfortable with technology.”
Use social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to network and get your name out in cyberspace. “You have to be visible. (Employers) have to be able to find you out there,” she said.
That said, be careful of what you post online, because much of what you do is potentially visible to the entire world.
Be very specific in identifying your skills on your resume. Employers increasingly use scanning software to pick up on key words in resumes applicable to the posts to be filled, helping them narrow the pool of applicants. You may be the best qualified person for the job, but if your resume doesn’t reflect that, a computer may axe you from consideration.
Network with friends, acquaintances and other real-live people. That’s how you get the inside scoop on job opportunities and it’s one of the best ways to get a job.
Send a thank you letter after an interview. Employers “kind of like that. Why? It’s the extra effort,” said Ross.
Look at the skills a job requires, not just the job title. A title may not seemingly jibe with what you’ve done, but the skills for the post may be a perfect match.
Donnelly hosts a job fair on Aug. 10 in South Bend. Some 60 employers are expected to have representatives at the event, according to his office.