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Jonathan Desiletes talks with Alanna Mahone, director of Human Resources at Mansfield Oil, during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce job fair earlier this week. - photo by Tom Reed

Looking for a job isn’t easy for anyone.

Between scouring job boards, filling out applications, writing resumes and interviewing, job seekers can easily rack up 40 or more hours a week.

But younger workers feel the job search may actually be a bit more difficult for them than it is for older, more experienced workers.

Makita McMullen, 23, of Gainesville, works as a certified nursing assistant but hopes to grow in her career. She said she loves working in the health care field and would eventually like to become a registered nurse and work in a hospital. Until then, she’s looking for a job as a medical assistant or a phlebotomist.

She recently attended the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce’s annual job fair to see what medical professionals are looking for in applicants. She said it can be a bit discouraging trying to advance because many employers have told her she lacks enough experience. She said knowing she has the credentials but not the experience employers want makes her anxious when she goes on an interview.

“There are just more people applying who are more experienced,” McMullen said. “But I’m like ‘I can’t get the experience if no one will hire me.’”

Wesley Milton and Jonathan Desiletes, social science majors at Piedmont College, also attended the job fair looking to gain experience.

The students said they didn’t find many opportunities in their field of study but by no means considered the day a bust.

“Right now, it’s just a hustle and bustle, but I’m getting the feel for how much of a competition there is,” Milton said. “I know a lot of people are looking for jobs.”

Desilets said he was glad to meet the people who hire face to face.

“It’s nice to break out of your comfort zone,” Desilets said. “Instead of talking with professors, we’re talking with the people who are actually out there and ask them real questions.”

Tim Christy, owner of Express Employment Professionals in Gainesville, said that is what younger workers should be doing — networking.

“The more people they get out and meet, the more companies they contact, the more staffing agencies they registered with, the better shot they’ve got of working,” Christy said.

Christy said some young people he meets seem to have a few issues in common these days.

Young people often don’t know how to dress appropriately for an interview. Christy said he sometimes gets a little criticism for telling casually dressed people to come back to his office when they are dressed like they want a job.

He said he’s a little “old fashioned” but it’s paramount for job seekers to make a good first impression.

“We have to really stress some of those aspects of employment to some people, because it’s not something that a lot of people know,” Christy said. “I guess the whole business casual thing got a little out of hand. When they come in wearing gym shorts, that’s when you know it’s probably not going to work out.”

He said younger workers often will not invest very much time into a new job before deciding it is not what they are interested in doing.

Christy said he encourages young people to stick with a job and try to find parts they do enjoy before they quit and start their search over again.

“The commitment level isn’t there,” Christy said. “They’ll take a job and say ‘You know what, this isn’t really what I want to do.’”

Christy said he tries to push young people toward seeking a trade, because they are more likely to find work they enjoy and can grow in.

Job seekers may find assistance in building their careers by visiting websites such as the Georgia Department of Labor, www.dol.state.ga.us. The GDOL offers job seekers several avenues to find gainful employment including skill-building workshops, a job board and information about education. The GDOL has developed a program to help young people develop those soft skills. The GeorgiaBEST program is being piloted in 150 schools across the state.

GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler said employers have two major complaints with younger workers.

He said employers tell him younger workers often lack the skills necessary to perform a job, because they do not have enough education, training or experience.

“The second component I hear a lot of is sometimes, even when they find people with the right skills and the right resume, their soft skills are lacking,” Butler said. “The soft skills are those like dressing appropriately, do they work well with others, general business-type ethics. They run into those problems.”

McMullen said she thinks she could benefit from soft skills training.

“I know one person told me that my resume didn’t make any sense,” McMullen said. “I was like ‘Oh, wow. Maybe I should go find somebody who knows a little bit more about this.’”

Butler said he hopes to encourage job seekers by discovering the barriers keeping them from working. He said his office can show them how to overcome the barriers.

“They might just need to sharpen up some training,” Butler said. “In some cases, they may not be presenting themselves in the right way. We have different programs and workshops to help individuals to sharpen those interview skills, resume skills, just show them how to go about a job search and find more success.”

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