'Hope' is economy's new word
Idled workers take note: Being rehired isn't a given, experts say
Norine Dagliano runs a business where she helps people write job resumés and is a job coach. (By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer / May 24, 2013)
“Since the beginning of this year,” said professional Hagerstown job resumé writer Dagliano, “I have just seen a tremendous increase in business, of employed people and unemployed people who are feeling enough hope in the economy now, they’re ready to pursue other opportunities.”
There has been a surge this year in the number of temporary and temporary-to-permanent jobs that area companies are offering, a jobs specialist said, referring to jobs that last only a few weeks and those that offer a few weeks’ employment with the potential of becoming more permanent.
“We are seeing higher demand for people,” said Lisa Coblentz, co-owner and vice president of the ManpowerGroup Inc. franchise offices in Hagerstown, Frederick, Md., Martinsburg, W.Va., and Winchester, Va.
“We’ve had more demand from our (business) clients. We definitely had a big push recently, up from last year,” Coblentz said. “And last year at this time was up from the previous year, so for two years in a row, we’ve seen growth in client demand for temporary and temp-to-perm.”
Nonetheless, among business officials in the region, there’s doubt about the long-term strength of such trends.
Some note that whenever the economy does rebound, workers who have been laid off and maybe took lesser jobs to get by, likely will find that the skills they had before the recession aren’t enough now.
“Employers, they might not be looking for experience (in a prior job) as much as they’re looking for new skills,” said Sharon Lehman, a human resource manager and treasurer of the Cumberland Valley Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. The organization has more than 100 members in the Hagerstown and Chambersburg, Pa., area, according to its website.
“Many times, when employers do look at bringing their (employment) numbers up, they’re not necessarily looking at bringing back the people that possibly they laid off a year or so before, unless of course, there’s some contract that comes into play,” Lehman said.
“But they may be looking at bringing in different skills than what they had. It’s their company’s opportunity to move forward. Things have changed (for companies) to move forward in the recession. They’ve redefined their business, so they’re looking for new skills, as opposed to skills they had,” Lehman said.
That’s a big reason why the Western Maryland Consortium, a Hagerstown-based organization that helps retrain the unemployed, has been urging jobless clients to tap into the federally funded training available to them, Executive Director Peter P. Thomas said.
When a job applicant is someone who was laid off, Thomas said, prospective employers “want to know what the heck you’ve been doing. You’ve been unemployed for eight months. You’ve been unemployed for 16 months.”
If the applicant hasn’t gotten any new training and can only describe his time off as time he’s been looking for work, “that’s not good enough,” Thomas said. “Here’s somebody perfectly happy drawing unemployment (benefits) when they could be out there increasing their skills, learning new software or whatever.”
But, he said, if the applicant can say, “‘Since I lost my job when Gold Bond Ice Cream closed, I’ve upgraded my computer skills, enrolled in a web design course at Hagerstown Community College and I’ve got a long-term work history,’ employers like to see that stuff. And why wouldn’t they?”
‘Beginning to see hope’
Dagliano has been in the business of job resumé writing as well as being a job search coach since 1984. She launched her current business, ekm Inspirations, in 1999.
Although the business is based here, its clients come from many states, which, Dagliano said, is reason to think the change she’s seeing this year isn’t happening just in Hagerstown.
“It kind of gives the perspective that this isn’t just one area that people are beginning to see hope,” she said.
During the 2007-09 recession and the weak recovery that followed, business was “very slow” for Dagliano.