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Strategies for Dealing With Struggling Job Market

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Aired 7/8/09

Are you having trouble finding a job right now? You're not alone. The California unemployment rate rose to 11.5 percent last month, and there are no signs the trend will reverse in the near future. So, where can you go to find the jobs that are available? And, what can you do to set yourself apart from the other applicants? We speak to Scott Silverman, with Second Chance, and Mark Cafferty, with the Workforce Partnership, about what you can do to improve your chances of getting a job during this down economy.

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. It's never easy looking for work. You have to update the resume and set up the interviews, smile a lot and then wait and wait for a callback. That's when times are good. During a recession, looking for a job can feel like hitting your head against a brick wall. With the unemployment rate in California now at 11.5%, so many people are applying for the limited number of jobs available that the whole process seems like a exercise in futility. But, some people are getting hi – hired, that is, and there are still jobs available. This morning, we'll talk about the different kinds of strategies and inner fortitude needed to cope in this recessionary job market. And we'll discuss where the jobs are in San Diego. My guests are Scott Silverman, founder and executive director of the Second Chance program, and author of the book "Tell Me No, I Dare You: A Guide to Living a Heroic Life." Welcome, Scott.

SCOTT SILVERMAN (Founder, Second Chance Program): Maureen, thanks. So nice to be back.

CAVANAUGH: And Mark Cafferty with the Workforce Partnership. It's good to have you here, Mark.

MARK CAFFERTY (President, San Diego Workforce Partnership): Thank you, Maureen. Great to be here.

CAVANAUGH: And we invite listeners to join the conversation. Tell us about your job search. Do you have a question about going on interviews or how long to wait for a callback? Give us a call. The number is 1-888-895-5727, 1-888-895-KPBS. Mark, let me start with you. Give us an idea of what is going on in the local job market right now.

CAFFERTY: Well, I think your lead-in was very appropriate, Maureen. It's very tough out there right now. And I think right now in San Diego, in the month of May we saw unemployment reach 9.4%, which would give us an indication that we're probably going to see 10% in the month of June when the numbers get adjusted. As recently as 18 months ago, people would've thought that might be impossible in San Diego with how diverse our economy is and the fact that we have so many different industry clusters, so many different types of jobs in San Diego and we're not relying on one industry, but that just is indicative of how deep this recession is. So what we're seeing right now is, there are jobs in San Diego but they are jobs that require specific skill sets and they require specific level of education. So right now what we're doing the best we can is really steering people towards the training they need to possibly make a move into a new industry and to make a move into a new job. But there's no doubt about it, it's tough out there right now.

CAVANAUGH: Tell us just a little bit so that everyone knows, what is the Workforce Partnership?

CAFFERTY: The Workforce Partnership is a nonprofit organization here in San Diego that is the recipient of Department of Labor dollars on behalf of the City and County of San Diego. Our job is to get that money into the region and then put it out into a series of programs and/or locations around San Diego County that help people either get training, access to training, or tips on employment and job search assistance, potentially career coaching. We work with organizations like Second Chance Strive, community colleges, school districts, ROP programs, nonprofit organizations throughout San Diego to put money out into communities that are really trying to help the folks who historically have had the toughest time finding employment, who have barriers to employment, and make sure that we're getting funding that helps them with their job search and, where and when we can, helps them get into training programs that can potentially upgrade their skills or update their skills or get them set on a track where they are employable for an industry that's growing in San Diego, or get them ready for industry growth once the economy recovers.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Mark is focused with the Workforce Partnership on the dollars available for training and where the jobs are. Scott Silverman, with Second Chance, you have – you see it from the other end. You see people looking for work, and I want to ask you to describe what you see in the current job market in San Diego.

SILVERMAN: Yeah, and it's really exciting to have Mark here because it's the collaboration of having the resources and the opportunities because what we do is, we do a direct programmatic. We're actually with the clients, hands-on, preparing them for the workforce. And what we teach and our particular area of expertise, is the soft skill, what we define as how to go get and keep a job. And I want to go back to your statistic, Maureen, about the eleven percent plus, statistically, what that represents are individuals that are getting benefits, unemployment benefits. So the individuals who are not getting benefits, for example everybody we serve, the hardest to serve…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

SILVERMAN: …unemployed, chronically unemployed, never employed, or people who are under employed, if you will, or people's benefits who have just basically terminated or sunsetted or aren't eligible for benefits, and there's the seniors and then there's the veterans. And so all of those folks are not part of the eleven percent, so when you really add it up, if you could actually inventory it, we think it's twice that. And in some minority arenas, it's as high as 25 or 30%. So the figure, unfortunately when quoted, sounds horrible but in many ways it's a lot worse and it's deeper, and I don't think people are really aware of that.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, it's a very good point you make there. And I'm wondering, the people that you talk to, the people that you serve, what are you hearing from them? Is there a level of frustration?

SILVERMAN: Well, I think everyone's frustrated right now. I mean, I don't care where you look today, at the highest level of legislative leadership, you know, to an individual who's just graduating college. I mean, later this morning, I'm going on the Disney Channel to talk to parents about what to do with kids that have just graduated college, that are just getting out of high school going into college, what to tell them to do in this environment. And everyone's scurrying for answers right now. But I think one of the things that we're trying to focus on, right now we have a class going on—it's Class 133, so we've actually had our Strive program in San Diego for 133 months and, hopefully, they're listening today. And – But what's interesting about what we're doing and what Mark does with the Workforce Partnership, is we help people with plans. And if you're in action and you're doing something about what's going on, you have a plan. If you have a plan, you can move things forward. Maybe not the same pace when there's a richer market, but you're certainly in action to getting something accomplished.

CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727 and we have a caller on the line. Veronica is calling from San Diego. Good morning, Veronica, welcome to These Days.

VERONICA (Caller, San Diego): Good morning. Good morning. We're actually here at Second Chance right now and Class 133 would like to ask a few questions of Scott. Here we have Joshua, and he'll be the first person to ask a question.

CAVANAUGH: Hi, Joshua.

JOSHUA (Caller, Second Chance Student): Hello. My name's Joshua. I'm 26 years old. I was wondering, what is the best advice you would give to people with felonies?

CAVANAUGH: I'm sorry, with what?

SILVERMAN: Felonies.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, I see.

JOSHUA: What is the best advice you'd give to people with felonies because I just got out of prison and I've spent most of my adult life there and I was wondering.

SILVERMAN: Well, first, Joshua, I'd say stop doing what you've been doing so we can get you in the direction you need to go in. Secondly, a criminal history is obviously a major barrier but there are work-arounds. And one of the things you're going to learn in class and one of the things we advise people on is at the point of interview and filling out the application, you have to be brutally honest. It's not the first thing you say when you meet somebody, but it's something you have to disclose because it's in your background. And what we teach and what we believe and what my experience has told me is if somebody likes you in the interview and they have a need for a hire, they're – if they like you, they're going to move you to the next level and you must be honest.

CAVANAUGH: That – Thank you, Joshua, and thank you very much Veronica for calling from class. And I'm wondering, Scott…

SILVERMAN: Yeah, what are they doing calling from class? They're supposed to be listening and learning. I'll be back there later to chat with them.

CAVANAUGH: And, you know, I'm just wondering, you know, you deal with people who really, really have trouble just getting their foot in the door when it comes to getting a job. And are there lessons that the general public can learn from that, now that jobs are so tight and it's much harder to get one than perhaps ever before in their working lives?

SILVERMAN: Well, you know, first of all, people hire people and, in my opinion, people don't hire resumes. So – But you need a resume, you need a cover letter, you have to fill out an application, there is a process, and it's formal, and most organizations respect it. But we're lucky in San Diego; 95% of our employers employ eight or less people, so there are a lot of mom and pop organizations around town who are not going to hang a sign…

CAFFERTY: Umm-hmm.

SILVERMAN: …'help wanted' in this environment because they don't have the time to sit and interview people. But one of the things I've found interesting, talking to a large organization back in November, who's technically saying, look, we're no longer hiring, but they're in an industry where 30% of their staff turns over every year, nature of the business. So they're not necessarily putting out signs to say we're hiring, but they have to replace workers, so that's about relationships. You know, getting your resume out, doing the follow-up work, and remembering when you get to the interview, if your level of desperation or your level of entitlement is conveyed in that interview, you're going to sabotage your success. So it's important to go through some sort of training or coaching, as Mark mentioned. What we do in our classroom is very formal and gives people three weeks to practice it because that's what you have to do today. We teach a thing called Handshake 101, how to smile, you know, and how to look someone in the eye and shake their hand. You know, it's amazing. There's not a university in this country that teaches how to go get and keep a job.

CAVANAUGH: Mark.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, and just to agree with that. I mean, these…

SILVERMAN: You don't have to agree, Mark, you know.

CAFFERTY: No, I know I don't have to agree. These tips that Scott is sharing is why an organization like Second Chance Strive and the other organizations that do this work are so critical. To some people listening, that's going to sound like something they already know or they've already been taught but for lots of folks, they haven't. And for certain populations in San Diego, and it could be individuals who are coming out of the prison system, it could be individuals who are transitioning out of the military who've been serving this country and who've been building skills in the military but have absolutely no idea how to transition from the – from doing work in the military to the civilian sector with what they've learned. There are organizations in the community whose job is to work with those folks to really help them bridge that gap and make the crosswalk between where they are and where they need to be. We run a series of one-stop career centers around San Diego County—there are six of them—and there's additional sites located within the military installations in San Diego—but the hope in those career centers is that people walk in the door and they may need a little bit of help and they may need – and they may be able to do that on their own or they may need a substantial amount of help in that we're directing them to organizations in the community that have a long history of providing that help.

CAVANAUGH: That is Mark Cafferty. He's president and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership. He's one of my guests. Scott Silverman, founder and executive director of the Second Chance program is my other guest. We are talking about looking for work in a recession, and taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Serita in San Diego is on the line and, Serita, welcome to These Days.

SERITA (Caller, San Diego): Good morning. Thank you very much for taking my call. I'm a retired annuitant with the State of California, which means I have worked for the state, I have retired and am receiving retirement benefits through the PERS system. I recently went online through the California Government State website to sign up for work as a retired annuitant and was delightfully surprised to get an e-mail back from the Department of Rehabilitation stating that they have been the benefit (sic) of federal stimulus money and that they were opening up jobs to use the stimulus package. And I was wondering if perhaps there are other ways of finding out where this federal stimulus money is going and helping people to apply for jobs in those areas.

CAVANAUGH: Mark.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, that's a great question and I think it's a critical thing for people to know about in San Diego right now. As an organization, the San Diego Workforce Partnership is one entity in San Diego that's actually receiving some Federal Recovery Act funding or what folks typically tend to call stimulus funding. And there are many more entities that either are receiving or will be receiving funding, and I think it's critical for people to really take note and go to these state websites and find out where that funding is going because whether you're someone who's worked construction and you want to keep your eyes on where the new construction projects are going to be happening when some of the infrastructure spending starts – The one thing I can speak about specifically, not necessarily to the caller's point with what the rehabilitation department might have been sending out but right now, in the One Stop Career Center Network that I spoke about earlier, one of the things that we've received funding for is training for folks who are out of work right now. And so the hard thing is to talk to people, who are out of work who need a job, about training longterm. But the one thing we know from studying the economy closely is that the more education someone has, the more training someone has, the better off they're going to be in this economy, and the far better off they're going to be when the economy recovers. And so what we're trying to get across to folks right now is if it's a time when you can afford to do it, going back to school and seeking out the different ways where you can get some funding to help you out right now to pay for that continuing education or extension of your education and completing a degree program is only going to help you down the line. And the folks at our One Stop Career Center Network and at a lot of these other nonprofit organizations, the community can really help guide people to where we know job growth is bound to be or likely to be coming back first and then the industries where we know far into the future we're projecting that there's going to be need once we see high levels of retirement in the next three or four years from certain industry clusters and a need to bring folks in to backfill those jobs.

CAVANAUGH: I want to talk a little bit more specifically about where you see that job growth happening and I also want to talk more about the tips for people, what – the things they may not know that they don't know about how to get a job from you, Scott. But we need to take a break, so we'll just be back in a couple of moments and we'll be taking your calls, 1-888-895-5727. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

# # #

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. We're talking about looking for work during the recession, and what skills you need and where the jobs are. My guests are Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, and Scott Silverman. He is founder and executive director of the Second Chance program, and author of the book "Tell Me No, I Dare You." Scott, I want to ask you, what are telling people to – what jobs skills do you want them to manifest when they go in for an interview that sets them apart from perhaps the other people looking for the same job?

SILVERMAN: Well, I think the number one area that an employer's looking for is somebody with a good attitude. So when you walk into an interview, if you're – and 80% of our communication is nonverbal and 20% is our voice and the tone of our voice. So if you walk into an interview and you're smiling and you meet the person who greets you at the office or the reception area or the first HR person, if everything about your body language and the way you're dressed and the way you present yourself says, hire me, I'm going to make your company money, you're going to get past first base very easily, or much easier than, say, the average person who's sitting there with a, you know, Burger King bag in their hand and a cigarette in their ear and their headphones around their neck and, you know, their frustration and their entitlement and their anger, you know, and desire, the fact that they've been walking around all day thinking, you know, you owe me a job. Nobody owes you anything. And if you're there to help the employer and that's conveyed to them, you're going to stand out amongst eight out of ten people that are looking for an interview if they haven't had the skill sets that you're preparing to present when you're there. That why, as Mark said and I agree, you've got to find a way right now to get outside of yourself and get some feedback from others. We work with a mirror in the classroom because I can see, you know, a dirt clod on your forehead, Maureen. You can see mine. Meaning I can see your smile or not, or you can see mine but I don't know sometimes. And when I'm hungry and I have to take the bus and the trolley and I have to spend half a day to go to an interview and I get there and I realize – or, they've just told me that the HR person has just gone to lunch, that's frustrating. And you have to prepare yourself to understand this journey, that looking for a job is a job and you must approach it that way because if you don't, you're not going to have the discipline and you're not going to be prepared. And we tell people, when you start the interview, it starts at the curb. Don't wait until you get into the office, start smiling when you get outside. And if you're a cigarette smoker, you better not smoke that day and, you know, if you have too much perfume or aftershave, and you watch your topics. And do research about the company you're going to talk to. Nothing more exciting when someone says, why are you here today? Just say I've read about the organization, I see you're doing awesome work with the environment and I want to be part of an organization that gives back to the community. Simply setting yourself apart in the interview. And that's really – that doesn't require a college degree but it does require some thought process, thinking out of the box and being prepared for that interview. And knowing that the person behind that counter, desk, or interviewee – you, as the interviewee, are you going to be talking to a human being who may have the same problems you do.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

SILVERMAN: So don't go in there with entitlement and expectations, but be realistic and understand that you're one of many and nobody owes you anything.

CAVANAUGH: Let's take a call. There are a lot of people want to join the conversation. Clayton is in El Cajon. Good morning, Clayton, and welcome to These Days.

CLAYTON (Caller, El Cajon): Good morning, Maureen, how are you doing today?

CAVANAUGH: Great. Thank you for calling.

CLAYTON: I just wanted to – well, two things. One, I wanted to add to something that Mark said, I am a United States military veteran, I retired from the United States Navy. And just to let – just to put it out there, the V.A. along with several other private organizations, if you are a military member, active or retired, they will actually sit down with you and help you to draft your resume based on your military experience and help you with interview skills.

CAVANAUGH: Great.

CLAYTON: But my question is actually for either Steve (sic) or Mark. I am currently looking for a job but I just wanted to know when is it possible or when is it the right time to, instead of waiting for the business to call me, when should it be appropriate for me to call the business to say, hey, I am still interested and are you still looking?

CAVANAUGH: That is a really tough question. What do you say, Scott?

SILVERMAN: It's only tough if you're not familiar. My suggestion is you wait no more than three days.

CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh.

SILVERMAN: And then – But your call's important, the tone you take's also important because most people that are in business are not in the business of hiring people. It's a small part of what they do. And they're not generally very good at it, so what you need to understand is when you make that phone call, if you can covey to them that you're trying to make it easier for them, that you believe in your mind you're the best candidate for them and you want to make it easy and that's why you're following up, and you'd be more than willing to come back and talk with whoever you need to but you're here and you're ready, you're able and you'll do whatever's necessary and you're flexible and you want to help make that company money, without overselling yourself. And making sure that they know you're available, you're flexible, and you're willing to do what it takes to help their organization and their bottom line.

CAFFERTY: And that you're interested. I mean, I agree with Scott a hundred percent on that. I mean, Clayton just, from the phone call, has a very good phone presence. Calling in and checking in three days after an interview or after you've spoken to an employer, I think, is a great idea. And as Scott said, people are busy right now. I mean, you know, folks in businesses are busy right now in this tough economy.

SILVERMAN: They're trying to save their own businesses right now.

CAFFERTY: Absolutely. And so I think checking back in with them to just say, I came in a few days ago, I thought we had a great interview, and I just wanted to check back in and see if there's anything else that you need from me at this time. I just wanted to make sure you know that I'm very interested and, as Scott said, that I really think I'm the right person for this organization and a good fit for this job.

CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Okay, Rita is calling us from Encinitas. Good morning, Rita, welcome to These Days.

RITA (Caller, Encinitas): Well, thank you for taking my call.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, hi. How can we help you?

RITA: Well, I wanted to address a comment made by one of your guests. I certainly agree with everything that was said in the last five minutes or so. But previously it was stated that no university teaches the skills to, you know, how to get a job and how to keep a job. And I'm on the business administration faculty at Mira Costa College. One of the classes that I teach is called Human Relations In Business. It deals with all of the interpersonal skills that have been discussed today, particularly in light of interviewing skills and that. And so I wanted to just say, no, there is one school that teaches that, and I do, and particularly since we are adjacent to Camp Pendleton, am involved with men and women transitioning from the military and what we do is make sure we translate military terms to business terms. And once they understand that translation, it makes it all, you know, that much easier for them. They leave my class with a lot of confidence and have gotten really good jobs.

CAVANAUGH: Rita, that's so good to know. Thank you for calling in and letting us know. So there is a Job Seeking 101.

SILVERMAN: Well, you know, Rita, this is Scott, and I always put that out there because I'm anxious to hear. You're the first person in probably seven years that's chimed in and said, we're doing it, so good for you. Reach out to me. I'd love to collaborate with you, and we're going to make you a guest speaker every month that you have time to come in and share your experience with our class because it's nice to hear that that's going on and love to, you know, do some information sharing with you on how we can build capacity around your skills.

RITA: Oh, that would be great.

CAFFERTY: And I would just…

RITA: My background is 25 years in Human Resources before I went into teaching. So I've got some things to share and I'd love to.

CAFFERTY: Well, this is Mark, Rita. I think Rita calling – and, Scott kind of is making a great point. I mean, the hard thing is that training programs oftentimes have to focus on the vocational skills and then there's this entire base of skills that people sort of dismiss sometimes as soft skills that are so critical. I mean, soft skills is not a great term because those skills are so critical to the job. Oftentimes, we have employers who say, I can train people to use any of this equipment but what I can't train them to do is to show up on time. I can't train them to be good working with people or working with a team. Those are things that I need to know they have coming through the door. And one of the things I think is that the community colleges in San Diego, and the public university system as well, is a wonderful system for folks who are looking to retrain. In fact, we're lucky in the State of California to have the community college system that we do. And so many people like Rita who are teaching in that system are actually from business. They're actually from industry. And I don't know that everyone knows that. So that when you're in a class that's focusing on a particular industry or set of vocational skills when you're in a community college, oftentimes you have someone there who you should probe a little bit more for, if I'm going to an interview, what might I ask? Or what suggestions would you give me? Because those are folks who might have worked in Human Resources, may have run a small business, and they have a lot to offer beyond just the vocational skills that are being taught or the career-specific skills that are being taught in the class.

CAVANAUGH: And, Mark, you were saying a little bit before that it's sometimes difficult to convince people who are looking for work that they need to retrain, maybe get a part time job and retrain. What kind of – People in what industries are really – really could use some retraining right now?

CAFFERTY: I – it – This used to be a very easy question to answer, and I think the recession has made it a very difficult question to answer. We hear an entire region, an entire nation, talking about green jobs or clean technology and I think the thing that people need to realize is, those jobs are there and are going to be there but they're not going to just grow overnight to a level where everyone who's out of work right now can be quickly trained for, quote, a green job. I think it's a – There are a base of jobs that are going to be tied very closely to construction as construction starts to rebound and that could mean that people need to learn to use new equipment. It could mean that they're working on retrofitting and rebuilding existing buildings, which is not dissimilar from what skilled trades men and women have been doing for a while. But as people try to become more energy efficient and build buildings and homes and retail establishments that actually are environmentally friendly and save people money on energy, those are the types of skills that a place like a community college could give somebody who has significant skills on the vocational side, some of the training and credentialing they might need for when the economy recovers and these jobs start to grow. An industry that we've told people for a long time to retrain for or to train for is healthcare, and healthcare jobs, for a decade now, have been projected right around this time to see substantial retirements from nurses and people in the nursing pipeline and in allied health professions. And suddenly we're not seeing that because this downturn in the economy is causing folks to stay in the workplace longer because their retirement is not what it once was. And so they're working two and three and maybe even four more years because they want to weather this storm, so to speak, but we've sent a lot of people into training programs in healthcare and we're trying to think critically right now about how to help those folks transition into industry and into jobs that will get them kind of past this wave until some of these retirements happen so that they can move into jobs they've trained for. But, secondly, make sure that we don't miss the opportunity to keep marketing that industry to folks because when this economic recession passes—and it will—and people start retiring from healthcare, if we've done nothing to train the next generation of healthcare workers right now, then these employers here in San Diego will be going overseas to find people to come in and take these jobs and we need to make sure we're training San Diegans for those jobs right now.

CAVANAUGH: Let's go to the phones and talk with Brad in San Diego. Good morning, Brad. Welcome to These Days.

BRAD (Caller, San Diego): Hi. Yes, thank you for taking my call. I have job in the past that pay quite a bit and it is with a contractual job and I got laid off from there and now I'm just looking for any job, which usually pay much less than what I used to make in the past. And some of the applications ask for disclosure of the salary and I wonder if by disclosing what I made in the past could infringe on my chance of getting a second call?

CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Scott, should he tell the potential employer what he used to make?

SILVERMAN: Well, the average employee is terminated because they either don't complete the application completely or they leave something off. So my suggestion is to always tell the truth because public record is public record. And since 9/11, you know, you can go onto any search engine today and I can put your name in, Maureen, and who knows what I'll get but I'll get something that probably will give me more information than if I called, you know, 20 people that don't know you.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

SILVERMAN: So my suggestion is always tell the truth. Now, we teach there's three kinds of truth, there's yours, there's mine, and 'the' truth. You must go to the interview with the truth and if it's sensitive, you disclose it in the right way through the interview process but not when you first meet somebody because you can sabotage your own success by simply being overly honest. But I think the information has to be shared and it has to be candid because if they do a verification of previous employment and you've put a different number down, you've lied on your application then and you're no longer going to be a candidate for that company. Or you'll be hired and before the probation period, the information comes back, you'll be terminated for lying on your application.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

SILVERMAN: And withholding, you know, is all – it's, my opinion, the same thing as lying, unfortunately.

CAFFERTY: And I think this is all – This is Mark. I would add that I agree with everything Scott just said. One thing, if that's a recurring problem for this caller, that he may want to think about doing is oftentimes you're filling out that application out for a particular job before the interview process starts. So if he's concerned that someone is looking at a very high salary and immediately thinking this person's not right for this position, he may want to make sure he's always attaching a cover letter, just a simple cover letter that talks about the fact that he was in a contractual role before, that despite the fact that he was making, you know, the amount of money that's stated, he's very open and very interested to any job opportunity right now and just do the best he can very positively, proactively, and simply to make sure he's attaching something that might sort of dismiss that concern from someone.

SILVERMAN: And, actually this environment right now, to the caller, that everything different than it used to be. I mean, I had an opportunity to go present to SHRM earlier this year, the Society of Human Resource Managers, and I asked one of my board members who was the outgoing president, I said, I'd like to, you know, present to the group. And she said, well, the group's not meeting anymore. They're too busy. So everyone's understanding in this environment that things are different, and everyone's getting paid less. I mean, we're in an agency that's doing great work and our salaries have been frozen for two years because the disposable income of donors is diminishing and the public sector dollars, obviously, with our budget crisis in our state, you know, IOUs are being issued at the state level right now, so it's a very unique environment. I think be honest, and Mark's suggestion about covering that by having the letter there, but letting people know that right now you're willing to do whatever it takes because, again, people hire people.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Let's take another call. Jennifer is in El Cajon. Good morning, Jennifer.

JENNIFER (Caller, El Cajon): Good morning, Maureen, and thanks for taking my call.

CAVANAUGH: You're welcome.

JENNIFER: I work for a local publisher here in San Diego and we're looking for interns and I wondered if, earlier, one of the gentlemen had said that it was a good time to go back to school, look at training for soon and in the long run, and I wondered how they, either of the gentlemen, felt about unpaid internships because we often take people on for three month internships and some of them have gone on to work for us and one of them currently does. I wonder how they felt the value of interning, even though it's unpaid?

SILVERMAN: I think it's a great concept. I also think volunteering's another way to get your foot in the door in an industry that you're trying to get in. But obviously if you have to put bran muffins on the table, your unpaid internship can't be your primary energy investment, if you will, or hours per week, but it's a great way to get your foot in the door and, you know, over the years, we, as a small organization, have hired interns because you get the lay of the land, you're making a real commitment to the individual organization you're working for, and you're demonstrating that you're committed to what they're doing, obviously, if you're not making an income. And if an opportunity presents itself, guess what, you've already been trained, you're almost past your probation period, you've gotten familiar with your co-workers, the colleagues, the infrastructure, and the priorities of the organization, so I think it's a great way to get your foot in the door if you can afford to do it.

CAVANAUGH: And, Mark, an adjacent question to that would be, what about accepting part time or temporary work? I mean, that means that you're not really having all that much time to look for full time work, but is that a good idea to take something that comes along that's part time or temporary?

CAFFERTY: I think it's definitely a good idea but we've got to really kind of think about what someone's individual situation is. As Scott said, I actually think internships are one of the best workforce development strategies we can have as a region and I think to individuals who are in college, an unpaid internship, getting that experience on your resume, getting your foot in the door somewhere, is worth its weight in gold. And time and time again, we've seen it in any walk of life that an industry brings people in as interns and then it's a screening process. It's actually a way for them to realize is this person a good employee? Do they have the skills that we need? Do they fit right with the rest of the environment? Are their core values similar to our core values? And when a position's there, you know that person already. You've seen their work, and you're more likely to take a chance with that person than someone who has a great resume who you know nothing about beyond what's on paper. With part time employment, I think San Diego is a region that has a great deal of part time employment and so I think when people can take those jobs so that they can make some money because they've got to pay the bills and, as Scott said, they have to put food on the table, I think that's critical. It's a critical part of their own career growth and their career development strategy. What's very hard or what we find is very hard is at the same time we would love to see people who are taking part time jobs be able to take advantage of training programs that might be able to continue to give them additional skills that are just going to make them that much more valuable when they're applying for the full time job or when they're looking to take the next step.

CAVANAUGH: Scott, we're running out of time but I don't want to leave this subject without asking you, when somebody's done everything and they've got a good resume and they smiled at the curb and they've had a good interview and they really felt they were going to get this one and they don't get the job, how do you counsel people to get them back up and not be so discouraged that they just give up?

SILVERMAN: Well, again, it comes back to attitude. It's the only thing in my life—and I've been married a long time—that I realize I can do is control my attitude. So, you know, you may have to lower your expectations but you don't give up. You persevere, and that's the whole concept, you know, behind my book, "Tell Me No, I Dare You," because in this environment, we're all hearing no for a variety of different reasons. No, you can't go there, there's not enough money. You can't drive the car, the gas is too high. You know, I can't afford my housing right now, I can barely afford food twenty days of the month, I've got to go to the food bank for the other ten. So the concept is, persevere and ask for help. Absolutely ask for help. I mean, the Workforce Partnership's got the one-stop career centers around town. You know, if nothing else, you put your hand up and you say, you know, my name is Scott, I need help, will you help me? And when you can ask for help – it's hard. First of all, it's very hard, it's very humbling, and you've got to get past the ego. But in this day and age, guess what, if you're trying to do life alone, you are making a major error, in my thinking, around how you can get through success. Going back to the point, by the way, about an internship and volunteering, as a candidate, you get a chance to shop the company…

CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah.

SILVERMAN: …or the organization, not just them you. And, you know, in most cases, organizations will teach you because they have their own culture, you know, they really will. And right now, the Gray Panthers, I call them, the senior citizens, are most sought after because, in many cases, they don't have the same financial needs as somebody coming out of a college institution. So employers are getting to the point where they have to think out of the box, too.

CAVANAUGH: I'm afraid we're going to have to leave it there. I want to thank my guests so much. Scott Silverman, founder and executive director of the Second Chance program, author of the book, "Tell Me No, I Dare You." Thank you, Scott.

SILVERMAN: Thank you, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: And Mark Cafferty, president and CEO with the San Diego Workforce Partnership. Thank you.

CAFFERTY: Thanks a lot, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: I want to remind everyone, you can continue this conversation online. We encourage you to post your comments about getting a job during this recession at KPBS.org/TheseDays. And These Days will continue in just a few moments.

Comments

Avatar for user 'gadeyne'

gadeyne | July 8, 2009 at 3:47 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

You forget to mention the job networking groups that have sprung up, groups like Inlandnet (Inlandnet.org) and Experience Unlimited (experienceunlimited.org) under EDD and the Department of Employment, somehow EU does not have a program in SD county and groups like Inlandnet had to step in.
60% of the jobs are filled through networking, another 30% through informational interviews, the old job searching techniques just do not work anymore.

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