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Janesville job picture might be improving

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
September 22, 2011
— The good news? More jobs are out there.

The bad news? Job seekers need to get the right skills and tailor their resumes to set themselves apart.


A recruiter at the Rock County Job Fair on Wednesday also urged job seekers to look outside their comfort zones and take chances on jobs. They can start at entry-level positions and work their way up by being motivated and reliable, he said.


Last year, job fairs were rare, said Bob Borremans, executive director of Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board.


Wednesday, he estimated more than 1,300 people showed up for 37 employers who had about 1,000 jobs available.


Most employers interviewed during the fair said jobs are more available than at the same time last year. Those comments support the most recent state unemployment statistics.


Janesville’s August unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, about 1.2 percent lower than August 2010. That compares to a state unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.


“It is an interesting job market,” said Rob Baskin, general manager of CannonBall:HNP.


The challenge for the employer is to sift through the many resumes to find the right fit. He recommended that job seekers stress qualifications they believe the employer is looking for.


Baskin said uncertainty about the economy remains, and many employers still are choosing to hire through temporary agencies before making commitments to permanent employees.


Company managers will keep it “lean and mean” until they have sustained confidence in the economy, he said.


Another employer said those seeking jobs might have hard times finding work because they are afraid to leave their comfort zones. He urged them to try something new.


Tony Giangreco, recruiter for iPacesetters, a call center for cable companies, said he is always looking for motivated, reliable people willing to work. He says he sees many unemployed people cling to hope they will find work with their former skills.


Recruiters from Arby’s restaurants said jobs are available for someone who wants to work.


“People have learned to work a little harder,” Bruce Knutson, district manager, said.


Heather Warne, in human resource officer from Prent, which make thermoformed plastic, said company is hiring.


“We’ve got lots of full- and part-time available,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of growth.”


Pay there begins at about $12 an hour for full-time jobs and $10 for part-time jobs.


Debbie Steadman from Evonik Industries said her company is running shifts 24/7. Evonik makes chemicals for products such as fabric softeners and cleaning supplies.


Business was stagnant for a while, she said, and the company didn’t hire in 2008.


“Now, we’re doing a lot of expansion,” she said. “We’re really busy.”


Some jobs pay $17 to $28 an hour. The company starts workers at lower pay until the employee proves he or she can do the job, she said.


Douglas Hutchison Jr. at Inspire Staffing in Beloit and Crest Hill, Ill., said his company has seen an increase in requests for temporary workers. His list of openings included clerical jobs and jobs for general laborers, machine operators and shipping and receiving people.


“There are more (jobs) around than last year at this time, but they’re sure not back to where they were pre-recession,” he said.


His increased numbers could mean there are more jobs out there or that companies are less confident to hire permanent workers right now, Hutchison said.


Borremans said Wednesday’s attendees generally impressed the business people. Based on their attire, job seekers seemed more serious about looking for jobs, Borremans said.


“They’re seeing people they definitely have an interest in, and they’re taking applications on the spot,” he said. “There appear to be a good number of jobs that employers are looking to fill.”


Job seekers must realize that the nature of jobs is changing, Borremans said. Jobs now require technical and advanced skills. It’s tough for someone coming out of high school to get a good-paying job.


Still, there’s hope out there, he said, pointing to this year’s job fairs compared to very few last year. Also, companies are starting to circulate job openings through the job center.


“I think that there’s no doubt there are more opportunities right now then there were a year ago,” Borremans said.



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