Health industry, environment, sales good areas to seek new jobs

Kevin Craig is hopeful more unemployed people will find jobs with the start of the new year.

Craig is a managing partner of Global Recruiters of Lawrence, which helps employers find candidates for open positions, and job seekers attain employment throughout the United States. He’s witnessed the effects of a 10 percent national unemployment rate at the end of 2009.

“It got pretty bad there for a while, but compared to the last half of last year, the job market is looking better,” Craig said.

The unemployment rate in the United States decreased slightly with the coming of the new year. In Kansas, the unemployment rate is below the national average, at just greater than 6 percent. Still, the number of applicants being hired by most businesses remains slim, though Craig does see some areas where he’s placing people in jobs more frequently.

Business development positions, such as in sales and marketing, have been most in demand, Craig said.

“Companies have seen things loosen up,” he said. “They need people to develop their business as the upswing starts to happen.”

However, Craig has filled these positions on a national level.

Locally, Nancy Defenbaugh, manager at the Lawrence branch of Manpower Employment Services, said she hasn’t seen a big increase or decrease in the number of jobs available. In the Douglas County and Franklin County area, Defenbaugh said her office has primarily placed people in entry-level office positions.

“Mostly filing, answering phones, basic data entry stuff,” she said. “Companies always need people to do those sorts of things.”

The health care industry survived through the recession and is still growing, both locally and nationally, Defenbaugh said. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health care industry is expected to add 4 million new jobs by 2018.

“It seems like Lawrence Memorial Hospital always has positions open,” said Cheryl White, head of the Lawrence Workforce Center. “There is especially a need, and will be a growing need, in positions for home heath care facilities, assisted living facilities and even visiting nurses.”

Another industry that is going to see a lot of growth is environmental development, Defenbaugh said. This includes jobs in environmental research, engineering and technology.

“There are going to be new sectors opening up there that are going to require a lot of specialized people,” Defenbaugh said.

Snagging the job

White said the Lawrence Workforce Center has already seen more than 11,000 job seekers come into the office in 2010. That’s already about 2,000 more than the number who visited the center in the entire second half of 2009.

“We’ve been very busy,” White said. “People are desperate for jobs.”

Defenbaugh advises job seekers to develop new skills and to be willing to try new and different things.

Craig stressed the importance of networking with as many people as possible. The easiest way to get into a company is through someone who already works there, he said.

A major mistake people make when applying for jobs is using the same résumé for every position, Craig said. It’s essential to highlight certain parts of one’s background that fit in with a particular company.

“A lot of people throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and see if it sticks,” he said. “That’s not going to work.”