Weeks Letter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Writer offers advice on overcoming hurdles caused by unemployment

According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, the unemployment rate for the entire state (which was calculated in June of 2008) has climbed to 7.2 percent. For the past couple of months, I too have been included in this statistic.

Being the single mother of a three year old and picking up odd jobs as often as possible to make ends meet has been one of the most trying times of my 26 years. It is very common these days to pick up the classified section of a newspaper and see that the help wanted column is grossly outweighed by the services offered column. It seems that everyone is looking for work.

Often there were days that I spent laboring in ventures where I felt overqualified and defeated. It is easy to think that education and a long working background makes one deserving of a bright career or at the very least a job that guarantees comfort and security.

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With today’s economy, we can expect neither regardless of the precautions taken to avoid the financial numbness that we as Americans are beginning to feel. However, keep in mind that we are actually entitled to nothing. It takes as much hard work and determination to find a good job as it takes to maintain a good job.

 On my journey to rejoin the work force I have come up with ideas and different approaches to help in my search. Faith and a positive attitude are everything. If you believe that there is something out there for you and you remain persistent in your hunt you will find what you need. Sometimes this just requires a little patience. Check with the employment agencies as often as possible.

Their sole purpose is to aid those who require work. Some of these agencies will go as far as keeping a profile on prospective employees to notify you when a job becomes available that fits your profile.

Another must for finding a job is making sure your resume is comprehensive and presents yourself and your qualifications in a matter that sets you apart from other applicants.

On my personal resume, beneath my name and contact information I have an entire section that showcases skills, personality traits, strengths, and goals.

I also have a section of professional experience apart from my work history to emphasize experience. This way employers know a little about you immediately.

On your resume you should include as much information as possible, even temporary positions. This shows diversity and employers like to see that they are hiring someone with not only experience, but experience in many different areas. If you are including jobs that were only temporary, be sure to make it clear that it was a temporary hiring. When listing your work history, include your reason for leaving that particular job. This prevents the notion of the potential employer that you might be flighty or unreliable. When listing educational history, incorporate extracurricular activities such as clubs, honors, and charity work. Employers are looking for outgoing people who can enhance their business. Also include references who are not family members. I would recommend at least three or four. These should be former employers, managers, teachers, or long time friends.

In my own pursuit, I sent resumes to everyone! I followed up on every employment ad in every paper, but I also dropped resumes at locations that were not advertising for employment- and I received more call backs from these businesses than the companies who advertised. Persistence pays off and you never know what you might find if you do not look! Good luck and best wishes to all who are traveling this rough road. The end is never far.

/s/ Stevie Weeks