Originally created 10/07/01

Employment services are key in a tight job market



When Doug Deike was fired recently from his manufacturing post after 17 years because of corporate downsizing, he realized his job-searching knowledge was a bit dated.

"Anything I knew about job hunting is irrelevant now," Mr. Deike said. "Now there's the Internet. Fax machines are available. The types of tools you use are different. Employers expect different things."

Willie Feaster, who was laid off after working nine years alongside Mr. Deike, said he's trying to remain positive and learn as much as he can about today's job market.

"I'm just trying to move on," Mr. Feaster said. "I know it's bad, but it could be worse. Those people in New York went to work and never came home. I went to work and came home without a job; at least I came home. You just have to get yourself in the mind to move on."

Staffing services and out-placement programs help people do just that. The struggling economy has led many companies to downsize in the past year and a half, and more and more workers are finding themselves back in a competitive job market.

Employment services company MAU has an out-placement program that helps prepare displaced workers to search for a job.

The program shows people how to write a resume and cover letter, compile a reference list and teaches job-hunting skills such as interviewing, networking and organizing.

MAU also provides computers with Internet access, fax machines, telephones, copy machines, stationery and free postage. The service is paid for by former employers who want to help their displaced workers.

"For many of these people, it's their office away from home," said June Barksdale, who manages MAU's career center. "It gets them away from the distractions and makes us available to answer questions for them."

Along with MAU, Sizemore Personnel is one of the largest of more than 20 employment agencies in Augusta. Sizemore employs more than 7,000 people in various businesses throughout the area.

Augusta's job market has changed from one that favors employees to one that favors employers. There are fewer jobs to be had, so employers are more selective.

"It will be tougher now for applicants than at any time in the past five years," said Charlene Sizemore, president of Sizemore Personnel. "The most important thing is to network, network, network. You don't know who's hiring, so talk to everyone you know."

Sizemore has a staff that can assist with writing resumes and cover letters. Or applicants can e-mail their resumes to Sizemore, which will then add them to the pool for possible employment. Those who are unsure about their resumes should get them checked out first, Ms. Sizemore said.

"If your resume isn't accurate, you aren't getting the best use of it," she said. "In today's market we need specific qualifications. To say, 'I was an electrical engineer for five years' is not enough."

John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.