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Looking for work? Here are some local resources that might help

By: 13 December 2010 5 Comments

As anyone who has been paying attention is well aware, the economy is still a mess.

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reported the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in October — up slightly over the 7.7 percent rate in September and up from 7.5 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate was 9.6 percent — down from 10.1 percent a year ago.

In short, Arkansas’ civilian workforce totals 1.34 million and 104,800 of those able-bodied employees are looking for jobs.

Beverly Smith, co-owner of Career Staffing Services (CSS) in North Little Rock, said there’s good and bad news out there for those job hunters.

“There are jobs out there,” she said. “You might not find exactly what you want to do, but if you need to work you’ll find work.

“It may be that you’ll throw a paper and you’ll wait tables, but there are jobs out there.”

So, how does one find one of those jobs? Smith said people hunting for work should utilize a number of resources. Fortunately, most them are free of charge.

Of course, Smith does tout the services her company offers. She said CSS is an employment agency in the sense that it represents area companies. Those employers pay the bills at CSS, meaning job searchers aren’t charged a dime.

Smith said people can apply for jobs online and submit resumes, too. CSS has jobs listed on its site and job hunters who apply for one job may be considered for others offered by companies CSS represents.

Smith said job searchers shouldn’t just drop off a resume with CSS and wait for the phone to ring, however. She said applying to other employment agencies will increase the chances of finding a job, adding that Premier Staffing is another successful agency in the area.

She said applying with a staffing agency doesn’t guarantee that you’ll find a job, however. Applying for jobs at one of those is very much like putting in an application at an area business — there are no guarantees. However, CSS and other agencies will review applications and try to match workers with jobs that suit their skills.

Again, Smith stressed the importance of diversity for job hunters, and suggests also looking for work online. Sites like  Career Builder and Jobs Arkansas (essentially the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s help wanted ads put online) are used by a lot of employers and jobs are updated regularly on those sites.

Additionally, local newspapers run “help wanted” ads daily.

Smith said job hunters also need to understand that finding a lot of employment opportunities involves networking.

“Most jobs are not advertising,” she said. “You just know somebody who knows somebody.”

She said the people job hunters run across almost daily — friends, church members, etc. — might have some information about upcoming employment opportunities. Letting people know you’re looking for work, then, might be just the thing that will help you find a job.

So, who is hiring?

In Arkansas, Smith said there are some fields that are still growing. The medical, government and bilingual customer service fields are expanding. Meanwhile, the traditional warehousing industry and some manufacturing companies are still hiring people.

She said the companies that make or distribute consumable products are weathering the economy fine. Blackhawk Molding Company in Mayflower, large bakeries such as J&M Foods in Little Rock, Kimberly-Clark in Conway, Molex in Maumelle, and the Skippy Peanut Butter plant in Little Rock are examples of some of the larger employers in Arkansas in the consumable products industry in Arkansas that regularly have jobs available.

What about part time work?

In the current economic slump, a good number of people with jobs that paid well a few years ago may be having trouble making ends meet. People in sales, for example, may hold their dream jobs but need to do something else for awhile until the economy picks up, consumer confidence is on the rise and people are buying cars, houses and other items again.

Smith said her office does get some part time positions in from time to time, as do other employment agencies in the area. Still, she suggests applying at a few agencies and keeping an eye out for companies that are hiring.

She suggests looking to the retail and food service industries for part time work. However, Smith said job seekers need to be aware that a bit of seasonality is built into those jobs — employers will adjust their payrolls and staff based on market need.

Still, Smith said a solid work ethic and a willingness to work flexible hours will go a long way toward finding a part time job and keeping it.

Hey, I want to work at home!

Who wants to work at home? Smith said a lot of people do, but people considering going that route should exercise caution. A lot of scammers operating on the Internet tend to thrive on desperation when the economy is down and prey on people willing to take a chance at learning a new way to make money. Smith said an old adage comes into play when dealing with work at home opportunities.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” she said. “Does it appear to be a ‘get rich quick’ scheme?”

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office has a Consumer Protection agency in place that does alert people of scams and searching that site may well reveal what scams are common. Smith said, however, advises anyone considering a “work at home” program to do some research before signing up for it.

“If you don’t know someone involved in it, you really need to do your due diligence,” she said. “You’ve got to know what you’re getting into. You’ve got to know the people you’re working with and you’ve got to check out the information that’s available. … Don’t just jump in. Check references.”

Smith said that she is involved in a direct sales company on the side — Rodan + Fields — and only signed up with that group because she was approached by someone she knew and trusted. She pointed out that people who do take advantage of such opportunities usually do so only after being approached by someone they know — those mass emails sent out at random on the Internet crowing about the latest “make money” scheme are to be approached with caution.

She said such social marketing is the way legitimate at-home businesses find people to work with in this day and age. In addition to the traditional word-of-mouth advertising, people typically learn of such opportunities through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

In other words, all those Facebook friends and Twitter followers may have information a home-based business that will help you through these rough economic times.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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