By Lisa Brown
Weary job seekers can be overwhelmed by the options and opportunities when job hunting. Job boards are filled with positions, and yet so many find the process tedious and often not fruitful. The State of North Carolina has developed a program with this in mind to offer help to the unemployed in need of guidance, understanding and assistance.
There are 58 community colleges in North Carolina that offer these classes, and in Wake County they are available in many locations linked through Wake Technical Community College. Trained and experienced instructors will provide guidance and tips to landing a job quickly and as painless as possible.
Classes include Job Search Skills, Nail the Interview, Make the Resume Work for You, LinkedIn – Getting Started, The Success Journey, and many more.
Fees are waived for students who are unemployed, underemployed, facing a layoff, recent graduates, stay-at-home mothers or seniors re-entering the workforce.
Rena Ferraro, director of Wake Tech’s Human Resources Development program, is eager to get the message out to job seekers of all ages about the wealth of information provided in these classes. “The name, Human Resources Development, was assigned by the state, but the program is not necessarily for people in the Human Resources field.” Classes are offered to prospects of any age and work background.
Ferraro has renamed the program “Skills Training for Job Seekers,” but it is still informally referred to as “HRD.”
“This is the first time in history that five generations of Americans are in the job market,” Ferraro says. This makes designing courses a challenge to meet the needs of students from 18 to 70, with the 40- to 54-year-old demographic being the largest.
Instructor Linda Lutz has been with HRD for four years and sees social media as the single most important impact on the success for job seekers.
“The biggest obstacle many face is not understanding what it takes to get a job today,” Lutz says. “The way they communicate their content and how involved they need to be with social media and technology is very important.”
Older job seekers often feel at a disadvantage in today’s ever-changing job market. Lutz says “the best way to stay relevant and current is the use of social media.”
Tim Tucker attended about six HRD classes a year ago. Once a scientist at Duke, he has a history of being able to reinvent himself. He had been working as a financial advisor for three and a half years but it proved to be a career he wasn’t happy with. In order to find something that worked, he turned to HRD to give him guidance.
“Everyone at HRD cares and knows what they are talking about,” Tucker says. His favorite class, How to Make Money When You Don’t Have a Job, motivated him to write and publish his own Amazon eBook. It is to be available online soon, he says.
Tucker posted his resume on the CareerBuilder job board, one of many suggestions made by HRD instructors. Within days a recruiter found him and placed him on a job at Cisco. “I don’t have an IT background, but they were looking for a certain skill set and I met their criteria,” Tucker says. Still at Cisco, he feels confident that any future job changes or hunts will be easier with the knowledge he gained at HRD.
Lutz has heard many success stories from former students and is pleased to receive emails from them with good news. One student, Will, had been unemployed for two years and found Lutz’s class in the Cary NC Works Career Center. Will started with the Beyond the Resume class then took another. “Eight weeks from the day he started his first class he had two job offers and started his new job,” Lutz says. Another student, Ken, who had been unemployed for six months, took the social media class. Two weeks later, he was employed.
“I find that people who take more than one class and stay active in their search with networking events are more successful in securing employment,” Lutz says.
The HRD program is funded by taxpayer money and everyone involved sees it as a fantastic use of the funds. Classrooms are well-stocked with laptops or desktop computers (when necessary) and easily accommodate all students. Class sizes vary depending upon enrollment, but may have anywhere from eight people up to 30.
Some classes provide N.C. Career Readiness Certificates, which confirms an individual’s workplace competency skills in applied mathematics, locating information, and reading information. Test results are used to award certificates and are required for certain jobs, such as teachers assistant positions.
For more information on class descriptions and schedules visit: hrd.waketech.edu or phone 919-532-5696. Find the program on Twitter at @wtcchrd and Pinterest at waketechhrd. For more information on CRC classes visit crc.waketech.edu.