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Local job seekers face strong competition

Internet applications make for less interaction with employers, Auburn man says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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With a tough economy and a competitive market, local job seekers may be hitting some road blocks when it comes to employment. One Auburn man said although he is still looking for work, he feels fortunate to have what he does in his life. According to the California Employment Development Department, the state’s unemployment rate increased to 12 percent in July, while the United States unemployment rate decreased from 11.8 percent in June to 9.1 percent in July. Placer County unemployment was 11.2 percent as of July, according to the department. Auburn resident Hershel Folkes has been working in part-time janitorial services for a health care center for about three months, but said he is looking for a second job because his only allows him to work 22 hours a week. Folkes said he lost his job in Washington state and moved back to California. “This is my boyhood home,” Folkes said. “I got back to California about three years ago, and it’s just been part-time work since then.” Folkes said he is looking for any honest job and said limited employment is definitely impacting him. “First and foremost, if it wasn’t for my parents helping me out, I would probably be homeless,” he said. “So, I’m very fortunate.” Folkes said even though he lost everything when he lost his job, he still has a roof over his head, food on the table and does have his part-time job. “So all things considered, I’m doing better than a lot of people out there,” he said. Folkes said in attempts to find more work he checks the Internet for jobs, visits Auburn Connections/Golden Sierra Workforce Investment Board on Grass Valley Highway and attends career fairs. One of the difficult things about looking for work is it is different than it was 15 years ago, because now companies refer applicants to their websites instead of meeting with them when a paper application is submitted, Folkes said. Folkes said he thinks there is something lost when applicants don’t get to talk to employers when submitting resumes. “Yes there is, because they don’t know you,” he said. “Anyone can make themselves look good on an electronic application. You sell yourself when you are talking with someone.” Folkes said he is not comfortable submitting applications through certain Internet sites because it can be hit or miss. “I don’t send out resumes over the Internet or Craigslist or anything like that, because you don’t know if it’s a front,” he said. Because so many qualified people are now looking for work, it is a very competitive market, Folkes said. “(Employers) don’t just have to take anybody,” he said. “They can take exactly who they want.” Folkes said while he has attended career fairs, including one in Roseville on Aug. 24, they aren’t always helpful because many employers still refer applicants to their websites. “Unless they are giving interviews on the spot, why are you dressing up in a shirt and tie and going down there if they are just going to refer you to the Internet?” he asked “Interviews just give you a better chance.” Jason Buckingham, executive director for the Golden Sierra Workforce Investment Board, which hosts Auburn Connections, said in today’s economy job seekers really need to be serious about applying for jobs. “The number of applications is through the roof,” Buckingham said. “That’s really the biggest issue. If you are going to go apply for a job right now, you need to be on your game when you do that. You can’t go about it in a lack luster fashion.” Buckingham said someone looking for work should treat the search like their full-time job and dress like they could have an interview every day. They should also make sure their resume has been edited, making sure there are no misspellings or other errors. Seekers should also network as much as possible with others, especially those in the industries they are interested in. Dennis Arzaga, president of the Auburn Active Job Seekers, said a good tool for networking is the site LinkedIn.com where professionals go to develop contacts in their fields of interest. Arzaga said certain groups of people seem to face roadblocks when it comes to employment. “I’ll tell you right off the bat, the majority of the people who come into Active Job Seekers are older individuals,” Arzaga said. “So, I don’t want to say that it’s discriminatory, but the age thing comes into play.” Arzaga said networking and getting in touch with others looking for work in the local area could make the process less stressful, and they may even be able to help with potential positions. Folkes said those looking for work just have to keep trying and can’t give in when it gets frustrating. “My biggest advice is you can’t give up,” he said. “The moment you give up, you are toast.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ For more information on Auburn Active Job Seekers or Auburn Connections, call (530) 823-4635.