Help available in Mid-Columbia for the jobless

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldOctober 17, 2011 

When you're unemployed, the most successful people are those who treat it like their job. Instead of a paycheck, the payoff is being hired.

That advice comes from Candice Bluechel, business services manager for WorkSource Columbia Basin, and Bruce Cameron, training manager for the Hanford Patrol.

Their advice comes as the Tri-City economy faces almost 2,000 layoffs so far at Hanford and up to another 1,060 possible in a worst-case scenario by next fall.

Cameron is teaching classes on resume writing and interview skills through Kennewick Community Education. WorkSource is a partnership of agencies with just one goal: to help people find work. Services offered there are free.

"We're a great example of your federal tax dollars at work," said Bluechel. "It's like one-stop shopping for jobs."

WorkSource should be a first stop before taking your place in the unemployment line.

You will find job listings posted daily of what's available in Benton and Franklin counties. WorkSource employees can offer help with resume writing and interviews, retraining, applying for jobs online and skills assessment.

For laid-off Hanford workers, identifying transferable skills is crucial, Bluechel said.

"Especially if they're not willing to move," she said. "A lot of things these workers have done in their old jobs will not be something a new employer will be interested in."

"We can do an assessment of a person's transferable skills in-house and also have workshops for that," she said.

Resume writing is another free WorkSource workshop, and if you already have one, they will critique it.

"Having someone else critique it -- both how it's written and how it looks -- can be helpful," said Cameron. "You wouldn't believe how bad resumes can look sometimes. Many have a cookie-cutter look."

"Resumes are an art form. Like writing a term paper, it takes practice and must be tailored to the job," he said. "A manager might get 100 resumes for a job and they look for certain things to jump out at them. You need to knock their socks off in some way, shape or form."

Managers choose candidates to interview when resumes touch them emotionally somehow, and you need one that presents you as a human being, not just a list of skills, he said.

Choose your words carefully when writing a resume or cover letter. If the ad says "data entry position," don't describe yourself as a "clerk." There is computer software that companies use that scans for key words. If they are missing, yours may go into the round file, not the short stack on the manager's desk.

When dropping off a resume or application, dress as though you already work at the business.

"People will remember that. If you're not dressed for work, some managers will simply cross your name off the list," Cameron said.

Honing your interview skills also is important. Cameron and Bluechel emphasize practicing with family and friends. WorkSource also can set up mock, in-house interviews.

WorkSource is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays, at 815 N. Kellogg, Suite D, near Vista Field in Kennewick. Phone: 734-5900; website: www.go2worksource.com.

To register for Cameron's classes, call Kennewick Community Education at 222-6977 or go to www.ed2go.com/kce.

Resume writing classes will be Oct. 25 and 27 and interview coaching will be Nov. 1 and 8. The classes run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Kennewick School District Administration Center, 1000 Fourth Ave., Kennewick. Cost for each class is $29 and preregistration is required.

Tips for your job search

Other places to check for job openings and services to help in your search:

* The Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management. EM has contracted with Professional Services of America to provide career and outplacement assistance to contractor employees. The virtual services are at www.workforce.psa-inc.com. Or call toll-free, 855-647-2511.

Services include links to job listings, resume uploading and assistance, employment information tailored to site locations, one-on-one counseling for setting career goals and other topics, cover letters, job applications, help managing stress and coaching on networking, interviews and negotiating job offers.

* Washington State University Tri-Cities' job fair is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 8. in the Consolidated Information Center on the Richland campus.

* Labor unions, classified ads in both print and online, employment agencies and employment contractors for temporary help.

* WorkSource will have a Skills, Abilities and Job Search Strategies workshop at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 26. It will cover how to talk confidently and knowledgeably about yourself, how to articulate your skills to employers, the Tri-City labor market and how to use the internet as a job search tool.

* WorkSource Columbia Basin weekly workshops.

8:30 a.m. Wednesdays: Learn how to complete a job application and what employers are looking for and common application errors.

1:30 p.m. Thursdays: Learn how to write an effective resume, some dos and don'ts, types of resumes and cover letters.

8:30 a.m. Fridays: Learn how to prepare for an interview and prepare answers to frequently asked questions, what employers look for, nonverbal communication and what questions are illegal.

All workshops run about three hours. Registration begins 30 minutes before each workshop at the reception desk.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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