Working to Land Your Next Job

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Most San Diegans have enjoyed the holiday season without Jack Frost nipping at their doors, but this year it’s hard times that might come knocking.

With countywide unemployment averaging 6.5% monthly for 1991 (up 2% from 1990), many are experiencing the economic crunch.

North County resident Karola Paul is one. The former customer service manager lost two jobs in the past three years because of company cutbacks.


“Your ego takes a big bashing,” said Paul, who previously earned almost $40,000 annually. “Right now, employers know it’s a buyer’s market. They’re taking longer to make a decision as to who they hire. They can afford to be really picky.”

According to Jack Nowell, statistician at the state Employment Development Department, jobs in San Diego County have declined in a number of areas. So far this year, the construction industry has lost 3,700 jobs; about 4,600 workers no longer have jobs in manufacturing, which includes high-tech and electronics, and finance positions are down 2,900 workers.

The only bright spots in the county seem to be in government jobs, which in the past year increased by 2,000, and the service industry, which gained 4,900, Nowell said.

Some companies are getting creative as they are faced with the prospect of cutting jobs. Hewlett-Packard Co. in Rancho Bernardo trimmed 218 employees form its work force this fall through a voluntary severance incentive program. Through the program, the highest-paid employees were given a one-time severance payment based on their years of service. The company also provided workshops in resume writing and job searching. Another 51 people, those over 55 with at least 15 years of service, accepted an enhanced early retirement program, according to Mike Buckley, communications manager.

Other companies have used the services of outplacement specialists to help place former employees. Such a specialist can assist with career counseling, resume preparation and interview training.

“The employer pays a fee to market the employee into another position,” said Mel Knoepp, vice president of Drake Beam Morin Inc. in La Jolla.


Many of Knoepp’s clients have come from the aerospace industry and financial institutions such as Southwest Bank, which was purchased by Security Pacific.

“The vast majority of (former) employees would prefer to stay in San Diego because of the lifestyle issue,” Knoepp said. “But because of the job situation, employees had to leave town or look at other means of employment, start franchises or their own businesses or consulting. It’s a very tight job market in San Diego.”

According to Judy Kelley, placement supervisor for the Oceanside branch of the state Employment Development Department, there were more jobs than people to fill them until last year. Then the recession hit.

“The peak came a few months ago when we were getting 200 (new unemployment) claims a day. Now it’s 140 claims a day,” Kelley said. “We are seeing people in a wider range of professions. When companies lay off, it’s professionals as well as unskilled” workers.

So what do you do when your company is cutting back? How do you find another job when moving to another area is not an attractive proposition?

Here’s what some residents are doing to stay put while coping with unemployment.


Meeting people who know of job opportunities is one goal of the many professional societies listed in the San Diego Source Book, available at most public libraries. Group meetings are often free, and the organizations provide special help for members.


For example, the 600-member Institute of Management Accountants recently began an Accountants in Transition group to help support unemployed members, according to Judy Thompson, IMA vice president of communications. The North County chapter of the organization is based in Vista.

“Accountants, by nature, are not marketing-oriented,” Thompson said. The group “gives them that first jump-start. All of a sudden, if they are out of work, IMA offers avenues that they (might not) know anything about.”

A group that caters to unemployed professionals from many different careers is the Professional Networking Group, operated by the state Employment Development Department. The group functions in four locations in San Diego County, including Escondido.

“The group has increased 100% in 1990,” said Janet Jolly, coordinator for the organization in Escondido. “People can get into the group by being out of work. It is the only group they ever join where we hope their stay is short, and we cheer when they leave.”

Currently, 137 people belong to the North County group. Each member must complete a one-week training class and volunteer 16 hours monthly at the EDD office in Escondido. The training course covers goal setting, resume writing, interviewing, networking and telemarketing.

“Most professionals have all those skills, but they may have worked for the same company for the past 20 years,” said Karola Paul, who was in middle-management in the electronics industry for 11 years before losing her job. “Skills need to be honed and brought up to date, freshened up and fine-tuned.”


Paul has stood in the unemployment line twice since 1988, and both times she joined the group. Her first tenure resulted in a job after nine months. She worked at that job for over a year before being terminated a second time when the company reorganized and her job was eliminated.

“I am willing to take a lesser job, but employers perceive you as being overqualified and think you will work (at their company) until you find something that meets your background,” Paul said. “There are so many applicants that employers can narrow the field to the person who has done the exact same thing before. It narrows the chances of transferring your skills.”

Paul now serves as the Professional Networking Group coordinator of training programs. She facilitates workshops for other unemployed professionals like herself. Her husband works in San Diego so she won’t move to get a job, she said.

Membership in the networking group ranges from people who live from Mira Mesa to Temecula and Ramona, and from Oceanside to Del Mar, Jolly said. Most members are between 40 and 55 years old.

Some people find a job within a month while others take a year or more, Jolly said. The average amount of time people spend in the group is 3.6 months, although they have probably been out of work longer since most people don’t join immediately after losing their jobs, she said.

The group is free to join, but be prepared for a possible two-month waiting list. For more information, call 745-6211.



Companies pay executive search firms to find employees for them. Most of the firms specialize in a particular career area. To find a specialized search firm, investigate the Directory of Executive Recruiters, which is updated annually and can be found in public libraries.

The recruiting firms accept resumes, which should include salary requirements, according to Carolyn Smith Paschal, president of the National Executive Search Firm in Del Mar. Paschal works with professionals with expertise in fund-raising, public relations, marketing and investor relations.

“People need to realize there is lots of competition,” Paschal said. “They need to prepare for the search and for interviewing.”

Paschal advises job-seekers to have a clearly presented resume and to attend professional meetings to network. She stresses the importance of the interview and of researching the firm beforehand.

“It is true what people say that potential employers decide very quickly if someone’s style and presentation fits with the company,” Paschal said. “People need to establish good chemistry. Don’t take an interview lightly. There may not be another one down the road.”


For some workers without jobs, taking a temporary position can help build a bridge to a permanent one.


“Fifteen years ago, the temporary business was like an emergency room,” said Phil Blair, executive officer for Manpower Temporary Services, which has 10 locations in San Diego, including two in Carlsbad and one in Escondido. “You only used it when you had to. Now, after each layoff, companies are not rushing to hire people back.”

In the ‘80s, a company might have 5% of its work force as temporary help, Blair said. It’s more like 15% in 1991, he said.

“If a company needs 100 production workers, the manager will say, ‘Hire 85,’ ” Blair said. “They keep 15 as temporaries in case of another slowdown.”

Blair said his company employs 300 more temporary workers than it did a year ago. Besides giving people a paycheck while they wait for more permanent employment, Manpower offers a training division to help people whose skills, such as word processing, may need improvement. In the outplacement division, workers can learn to put together a resume and how to find the “hidden” jobs in a field.

“About 75% of all jobs are word of mouth or are developed in the interview,” Blair said.

Manpower also offers placement services. Between 25% and 33% of all the people who come to the temporary service to find a permanent position do get a full-time job, Blair said.

The largest division at Manpower is in clerical help, but because of the increased numbers of people who are refinancing their homes due to lower interest rates, Manpower also places many loan processors who lost their jobs at Great American, HomeFed and other banks.


“We are seeing more people of a higher caliber now available for work,” Blair said.


Originally started to redirect the hiring of day laborers on the streets of the city, the Carlsbad Hiring Center now caters to unemployed blue-collar workers as well, according to Carlsbad senior analyst Cynthia Haas.

The hiring hall began with a $46,300 grant from the city of Carlsbad. It is located in a trailer at Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real. Services are free to both employers and employees.

“It was established in the hopes of providing employment to documented workers,” Haas said. “It is for relatively unskilled workers, more labor-intensive work. Those jobs are often harder to fill.”

More than 700 people have registered since the center opened July 15, she said. Of those, about half have gotten day jobs, and 95 workers have permanent jobs. The Service Employment and Redevelopment organization staffs the center and actively recruits employment for the workers.

The city of Encinitas also operates a hiring hall for day laborers, although funding for the project will run out at the end of the year and city officials are uncertain about its future. A hiring hall has also been established in Valley Center.


Some people who find themselves unemployed may need to go back to school for retraining.

Countywide programs are offered through the federally funded San Diego Consortium and Center for Private Industry.


Funded through the federal Job Training Act, Eldorado College in Oceanside trains office assistants and secretary-word processors. Certified nursing assistant, machine tool operator and clerical-computer skills programs are available at MiraCosta College in Oceanside.

In addition, Renee Landavazo of the state Employment Development Department is available on the MiraCosta’s Oceanside campus from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday to assist people with job searches.

“The outreach department at EDD provides a state employee who can work with anyone from the public,” said Diane Baum, manager of career planning and placement service at MiraCosta. People can “fill out one application and have access to not only the job bank from EDD, but jobs here at MiraCosta. But the public needs to be aware that students’ interests are served first.”

Another service offered at MiraCosta is the “New Directions, New Job Choice” class taught by Jonnie Carstens, who changed careers in midlife herself. In the four-week, free class offered through the Horizons extension program, Carstens helps people explore their values, learn assertion training, write resumes and explore careers.

“The course is for people who have lived a little while,” said Carstens, adding that students in the class range from 29 to 60 years old. The next class is scheduled to begin March 2.

Also open to the public is the MiraCosta career center, which houses an extensive library of materials related to job hunting and career change, according to Baum. She also refers people to agencies that can help them in their job search.


“I’ve been seeing people who have really good skills within the last month,” Baum said. “Earlier in the recession, it was kids with very few skills trying to get their first jobs. Now I’m seeing people with Ph.D.s, single or divorced parents with older children.”

At Palomar College in San Marcos, about 35 vocational training courses are offered, including child development, fire science and diesel mechanic technology. Career development classes are also offered at the community college.

Palomar public information officer Mike Norton tells the story of a man who worked in advertising sales and took a course in furniture making that led to a career change.

“He came in to sell me an ad and saw the course catalogue,” Norton said. Dick Hardwick of Vista, who had been interested in woodworking primarily as a hobby, took advanced course work in the field and is now a full-time custom furniture maker.


“Even people who are still employed are finding their career path stymied,” said Jane Rhodes, who counsels mid-career executives who find themselves at a turning point. “People need to go through a discovery process to see what they want to do. Companies use a recession as an excuse to trim up. People need to be creative and consider lateral moves.”

Through an intensive eight-week class, Rhodes, president and CEO of Coeurage Inc. in Solana Beach, teaches mid-level managers and professionals how to redirect their careers. The program’s five steps could apply to anyone looking for help:


* Envision what you want from life and your career.

“Most people have vague ideas about what they want,” Rhodes said. “They may even limit their vision to what they think they deserve. It is important to get very specific. This can be extremely difficult and even frightening, but it’s the essential first step.”

* Evaluate how to get there from here.

“The more a professional has invested in his career direction to date, the harder it can be to see how to make a change without losing a lot of ground,” she said. “People often need assistance to break out of inappropriate assumptions and one-track thinking and see a clear path ahead.”

* Maximize your strengths and eliminate the roadblocks.

Most roadblocks are internal, and the key is for people to stop being their own worst enemies, Rhodes said.

* Develop an action plan.

“I find it crucial that people develop their own written personal strategic plan,” Rhodes said. “The only way dreams ever become reality is first to visualize it, then to see the steps to take and then to take them.”

* Implement the plan.

“A group setting really helps during this phase,” she said. “A strong support group of peers provides ongoing encouragement as the individual steps out into their new life and career.”

In January, Rhodes will hold one-day workshops on career change. For more information, call 792-6556.


Encinitas-based career counselor Mary McIsaacs at the Center for Life and Work Planning also offers introductory workshops for people contemplating career changes.

In one-on-one sessions, McIsaacs assists career changers with self-assessment, career exploration and goal setting.

“I see the whole thing as an information-searching process,” she said. “When you ask people if they have any written goals, 90% of them say no. The first thing they need to do is see themselves clearly.”

The workshop, held the first Saturday and third Wednesday of each month, costs $10. For more information, call 943-0747.