Nearly one in 10 Augustans is out of work, but Michael Martin was determined not to be one of them.
Martin found out three months ago that his sales job was being transferred out of the Augusta area and decided it was time to find something new. Within one week with the help of Peak Employment Solutions, he was hired at Augusta Iron & Steel as a painter and has since been promoted to head painter.
Mike Frazier, the owner of Peak Employment Solutions, said Martin’s story is an example of what it takes to get hired in today’s job climate: flexibility, enthusiasm and drive.
“These kinds of people we can place all day,” Frazier said.
Jobs in engineering, technology, sales, customer service and marketing are currently in high demand in the Augusta area, Frazier said, and candidates that demonstrate creativity and eagerness will be able to find work.
Candidates that have set ideas about how much they will be paid or what they will be expected to do, are less likely to find work in this economy.
Just because employers aren’t hiring for the one specific position a job seeker may have had in mind doesn’t mean they can’t find good work, he said.
“People just don’t understand why they can’t get what they used to have,” Frazier said. “They want a raise and a promotion in an economy that is running sideways.”
The economy is hurting everyone, Frazier said, and employers want to hire people who can serve the company in many ways. Job candidates with a desire to improve the company will get hired, even if the employer has to invest in some training. He encourages his employer clients to hire based on the person, he said, not the résumé.
“You have to be extremely unique, and you have to create value,” he said.
Making the switch from sales to manufacturing was scary at first, Martin said, but he was willing to do whatever it took to stay gainfully employed.
“Jobs are hard to come by, and you do what you can,” he said. “You’ve got to be flexible with the things you do in life.”
Nationally, the Federal Reserve last week downgraded its outlook for 2012 growth. The Fed now predicts the economy will grow between 1.9 percent and 2.4 percent this year – a half a percentage point lower than its forecast in April. And it doesn’t see the unemployment rate falling much lower this year.
Hiring likely did not improve in June, based on the level of people applying for unemployment benefits. Applications have climbed nearly 5 percent in the past two months.
In Augusta, unemployment is still an issue, but jobs are starting to pop up in areas that were hit badly by the recession.
Robert Kelly, a staffing specialist at The Job Shop Inc., said he has seen the most demonstrable growth lately in human resources and accounting. Those sectors were some of the first hit in 2008, and are starting to come back slowly.
“The first thing everyone did was to consolidate, and those are some of the easiest departments to downsize,” he said.
“Those things are starting to come back, and that’s all a good sign.”
Isaac Kelly, a Job Shop staffing specialist that works mainly with manufacturing and industrial positions, said Augusta’s saving grace has been its economic diversity.
“Our local market is quite unique, with a wide range,” he said. “Cities like Detroit, the entire city was based on automotive. In Augusta, we’re more widely spread and it keeps us grounded.”
Isaac Kelly said he has seen an increase in job opportunities for facilites maintenance, HVAC technicians and any kind of skilled worker.
Hiring is still slow at best, both men agreed, and employers are still trying to make do with as little as possible.
“Businesses are still considering the risks very carefully,” Robert Kelly said. “Unless it’s a dire need, it’s going to take a back seat.”
Associated Press reports were used in this article.