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Help wanted for job seekers

September 17, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Looking for a job in today's economy can be a long, frustrating process, job seekers said Thursday at a job fair at the Washington County One-Stop Job Center at 14 N. Potomac St.

"It's been hard," said Janet Crushong, 29, of Hagerstown, who has been looking for a job for about three months. "People either aren't hiring, or they are hiring and they lay people off or they tell you they'll give you a call and then they never call."

She was one of dozens of job seekers who attended the job fair, where employers Fed Ex Ground, Packaging Services of Maryland, Staffmark, Susequhanna Bank and UPS had tables.

Washington County's unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in July, the latest month for which the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has statistics.

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Crushong said she previously worked as a light industrial laborer, but stopped working when she had a baby about a year and a half ago. Now a friend has agreed to watch her child, but all the work seems to have dried up, she said.

To increase her chances, Crushong said she's decided to enroll in a job training program through the Department of Social Services.

Shannon Kinzer, 26, of Hagerstown, said she has also been trying to re-enter the work force after some time off, with no success.

Most frustrating, Kinzer said, is when she asks for an application in a business with a "help wanted" sign out front and is told the business is under a hiring freeze.

Jackie Vines, 47, said he has been living on unemployment since January, when he was laid off from a vinyl siding business suffering from a sagging housing market. Vines said he had to move to Hancock, Md., where housing is cheaper, to stretch his limited unemployment income.

Vines said he goes to the One-Stop Job Center each week to check job databases for new openings matching his qualifications, but lately the searches have turned up only companies where he's already applied.

Hagerstown Community College student Jaclyn Sloan, 18, said she needs a job to afford her rent and car payment and has been spending about five hours a day filling out online applications and looking for "help wanted" signs.

"It has been very difficult," Sloan said. "Everybody wants experience and things like that, and it's kind of hard when you're starting out to find a job."

Kenyatta Whilte, 34, who recently moved to Hagerstown, said the key to finding a job is to be patient and work on fine-tuning your resume and applications.

"Some might get mad and give up," he said. "I've been doing it for a while, so I take my time with it."

For low-income, out-of-school youth ages 16 to 24, another way to boost employability is to enroll in Job Corps, a free, federally funded career training program with campuses in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., Baltimore, and Laurel, Md., said Jobs Corps admissions counselor Laurie L. Ballow, who had a booth at the job fair.

Those interested in Job Corps may call Ballow at 301-600-2531 or visit www.jobcorps.gov.

Hagerstown Community College, the U.S. Navy, and the Washington County Free Library also had booths on services they offer.

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