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Holding Out Hope in a Changing Job Market
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Holding Out Hope in a Changing Job Market

In February 2008, the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition released a report stating that the proportion of jobs lost from Ohio between 2000 and 2007 was the largest drop since the end of the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, between February 2007 and February 2008, Ohio’s unemployment rate has averaged nearly a full one percent higher than the national rate, according to figures obtained from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

Senior Anna Brackman listens to a presentation on professional etiquette.Things have been tough in Ohio’s job market, but job seekers should not lose heart. “It’s absolutely not hopeless,” said Marty Mordarski, director of research & membership of Northeast Ohio’s Employers Resource Council (ERC).

According to Mordarski, surveys taken by the ERC indicated that maintaining staff is frequently a key goal for area businesses. “One question we ask is ‘What is your number one challenge this year?’ And every year, one of the top responses we receive is ‘Finding and keeping great people.’”

HR Hot Topics—2008, an annual report published by the ERC, also indicated that “Northeast Ohio employers plan to employ more employees this year than last.”

Other regional economic organizations seem to agree that employment is trending upward. In their quarterly Economic Review for December, 2007, a group called Team NEO, an organization founded by First Energy Corporation, the Greater Akron Chamber, the Stark Development Board, the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, found that while the region has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs, it has gained thousands more in the fields of health care, computers, and business.

While the research and statistics may project a bright future, it is up to the individual job seeker to find the tools to navigate the job market. For those who live in Northeast Ohio, Mordarski recommends visiting job search websites including the North Coast 99 Career Center and finding networking opportunities such as those found through the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club or Notre Dame College’s Career Services Center.

Notre Dame’s Career Services Center offers a wealth of free assistance and materials for current students and alumni including career planning, résumé and cover letter assistance, and mock interview workshops. They also provide networking opportunities through their annual career fair and affiliation with the Northeast Ohio Teacher Education Day (NOTED). Students and alumni can also register for the online job board, FalconNet.

As the region looks forward to an economic rebound, job seekers, from the newly minted graduates to the downsized professionals, should hold on to the simple truth: it may be tough out there, but it is not hopeless.

Know Thyself

Looking for a job is not an overnight process. According to Kim Lane, the director of Notre Dame College’s Career Services Center, the key to a successful job search is to prepare early. “The job search is going to take at least six months.”

In addition to creating a strong résumé and cover letter, looking for a career involves self assessment. Job seekers need to take an honest look at their strengths, weaknesses and expectations in relation to their career goals.

Graduate students Amy Barwidi speaks with a recruiter.Working with college students, Lane understands how important this personal inventory can be. “We can tell students what’s hot and what the highly demanded degrees are, but we always have to balance what the person’s personality and work interests are. If I tell someone that accounting is really hot, but they hate accounting and crunching numbers, they aren’t going to be happy. Ultimately, they have to be happy in their career path.”

With their research, job seekers should also consider the market realities for their chosen field. Katie Purcell, a graduate assistant with the Career Services Center notes that students who want to break in to certain career fields need to consider the possibility of relocation. “For some careers, people will end up leaving Ohio because the market for their field is saturated. For example, many people looking to break into broadcast or print media are going down south or out west. But for other jobs, such as nursing, they do not have to leave the region.”

As difficult as the job search may be, job seekers should remember that employers are also on the hunt for quality employees. “We had 40 employers attend our career fair in March,” said Lane. “There have been other career fairs in the area that have drawn as many as 200 employers. You are seeing financial services, insurance and health care companies, and even government agencies at these events. There is, in fact, a job market.”

Steve Ruic is the writer and editor for Notre Dame College.