WISH LIST: Goodwill Industries of the Columbia offers free job help

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldDecember 27, 2013 

Goodwill Industries of the Columbia is offering free, one-on-one help to Tri-City job seekers who need a little extra support.

The nonprofit recently opened the Employment Connection Center in Pasco to help those who need more support than what WorkSource Columbia Basin offers, said Scott Shinsato, Goodwill's associate executive director.

The new center, located near a bus stop, makes it easier for Pasco residents to access services, as WorkSource Columbia Basin is in Kennewick, Shinsato said.

The center, at 3521 W. Court St., is next to Goodwill's new Pasco store and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"I think it's filling a gap," said Casey Cunningham, Goodwill employment specialist.

Some job seekers need help with basic computer skills, as many job applications are now done online, Cunningham said. Center staff help them use computers to search for jobs, set up email accounts and learn useful shortcuts.

They also can offer helpful tips, such as researching employers when applying, tailoring resumes to the job and employer, and following up, she said.

First opened on Oct. 4, the Employment Connection Center offers a computer lab with 16 computers and help with resumes, cover letters and job searching, Cunningham said.

A bulletin board on one wall of the computer lab has job leads written out with the company, such as Ross and ConAgra Foods and how to apply. Cunningham said they update it regularly. More job leads are available in binders, organized by industry.

A folder full of resources is provided for each job seeker. It includes tips for resumes, cover letters and interviews, a list of what workshops Goodwill offers and some computer basics.

Job seekers can also take a career assessment to help them narrow down what sort of careers fit their strengths.

Job seekers are encouraged to fill out a master application so that they can quickly fill out applications for specific openings once they are available, Cunningham said.

Workshops teaching life skills and job readiness conducted at Goodwill's Kennewick office will be moved to classrooms at the Pasco center starting in January, Cunningham said.

Those also are free and open to those who come to use the center.

Cece Pounds of Pasco was using the computer lab at the Pasco center earlier this week to apply for medical assistant jobs.

As a single mom, she said it helps to have a place where she can hunt for jobs without distractions.

It also helps that there is someone to ask when she has questions, she said. Goodwill employees have given her helpful suggestions.

So far, Cunningham said they've had about 15 to 30 people a day drop by to use the center.

About 85 job seekers a month have sought some kind of help.

Goodwill employees have verified that 10 people have secured jobs after using the services available at the center, she said.

Those who are successful in getting a job are sent a voucher to use at one of Goodwill's stores, Cunningham said.

Teona Golding, Goodwill's director of mission services, said Goodwill also provides a service for employers by being able to offer up pre-screened, qualified applicants for open positions who are ready to work.

The Employment Connection Center is paid for by the revenue Goodwill raises from its retail sales, Shinsato said.

Goodwill receives donations from the community that are sold in local thrift stores or online or recycled.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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