Vermonters explore the job market on Labor Day

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(Host) One year ago, Vermont Public Radio visited the Department of Employment and Training Job Center in Barre and talked with several people hoping to find jobs. At the time, the labor market was beginning to slow and there was concern that hunting for a job was about to get harder.

VPR’s Steve Zind caught up with two of the people we talked to a year ago to see how they’ve fared.

(Zind) Thirty-nine year old Mary Franks was one of a half dozen people attending a job interview workshop at the Barre center a year ago. For Franks it was a refresher course. She’d been out of the job market for a few years while her children went through high school. Now she was ready to return. She said wanted a job as an administrative assistant. Now Franks is now working in a business that manages captive insurance companies for large corporations. She says she’s exceeded the job expectations she had a year ago:

(Franks) “I didn’t expect to have so many of my needs met. My financial needs have been met. Being happy and comfortable where I am day to day. The people are a good fit. The future prospects are a good fit. I like the job duties.”

(Zind) The job Franks settled on wasn’t the only offer she had, but she says it was the best fit for her. It took Franks three months to find the right job. She mailed out scores of resumes and went to about ten interviews.

(Franks) “Sometimes thinking, ‘I’ve been on so many interviews and I didn’t get an offer.’ That can be discouraging, but it’s all par for the course and it’s just a matter of hanging in there and going through the process.”

(Haggett) “I’m not so optimistic because it’s getting tougher all the time.”

(Zind) Elaine Haggett entered the job market the same time as Mary Franks. What she learned in the job center workshops last year was new to her. Haggett is approaching her late fifties and has never had a regular job outside of her home. She’s learned basic computer skills and how to go for a job interview. She’s rewritten her resume over and over again. Her sights are set on an office job. In the past year she’s been to about ten interviews and mailed out dozens of resumes. She still hasn’t found work. Not long ago, Haggett went to an interview and was offered a job in an office. When she went in to work, she came to a difficult realization:

(Haggett) “I had a job offer just last week but I really didn’t feel comfortable that I had enough experience to undertake the job, so I told them that. I mean, not fool them that I could do it and say I know how to do this.’ I can’t do that. I’m not that type of person.”

(Zind) Haggett says the declining job market means more people are competing for fewer jobs. And nearly everyone has more experience than she has.

(Haggett) “It’s really tough out there. It’s a tough world, especially with all the competition. I find it extra tough for me because I’ve never done the office environment before. Yet I know I can do it. I know I can do it if I just get that right chance.”

(Zind) Haggett knows there are jobs in the retail and service industries, but she has her heart set on the office job for which she’s been training the past year. She admits she’s discouraged, but she’s not yet ready to give up.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Barre.

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