Sometime during the end of May and the beginning of June, Kassia Switlik Bukosky, business services manager for the Mercer County One-Stop Career Center in Trenton, was approached by a security company that needed to hire three people.
The company was based in North Jersey, but had recently received a contract for a job in Trenton. Bukosky and the One-Stop Center got the company the people it needed and later this month, she says, the company plans on returning to recruit up to 50 more people, all through the center.
The One-Stop Career Center offers workforce services and career resources to job seekers, students and employers. It is the middleman between employer and employee, connecting business owners with an eager workforce and helping job seekers with long-term employment. The center also offers resume services, career guidance, job fairs, and seminars on interviewing.
“As far as job orders and openings, we see everything from entry level warehouse positions all the way to senior accountants and everything in between,” says Bukosky. “We have a number of openings with a financial services company in the area and we’re seeing a lot of orders in that area.”
Bukosky will talk about the free services offered by the One-Stop Center at the East Windsor/Hightstown chapter of the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, July 21, at 8 a.m. at Shiseido America, 366 Princeton-Hightstown Road. There is no cost for the seminar, but reservations are recommended and a light breakfast will be served. Call 609-989-6523, or visit mercervillenjcoc.weblinkconnect.com.
“We’re trying to spread the word,” Bukosky says. “A lot of people don’t know about the One-Stop, or they only think of it as one thing. I think we are a lot of things to a lot of people, but people don’t put it all together that we can help any number of different groups.”
Making connections. For larger business owners, One-Stop will screen candidates based on an employer’s qualifications and set up a series of interviews at the center or elsewhere. In addition, smaller employers can come in and use the center’s telephone, fax, and Internet and connect with labor market data.
“It can be as simple as posting a job order for us, you give us a job description, what you’re looking for and we will post it here, and it also gets posted on jobcentral.com,” she says. “The next step is recruitment, where we pre-screen for what an employer is looking for. We do all of the preliminary interviews.”
The center also is able to give employers a little more incentive to hire. With funding by the state and county, One-Stop can pay 50 percent of a new hire’s wages for up to six months during training. “It’s a way for an entry level person to get some good training and for you to mold an employee with the job skills you would like to see,” Bukosky says.
For jobseekers, the center will provide a variety of job search seminars, job leads, and advice on how to make themselves more marketable. “We look to see if they don’t have something listed, we try to give them suggestions of places to look, or people and places they haven’t considered looking at,” she says.
What they are looking for. With employers holding most of the cards, job seekers need to target their searches, a difficult task in a weak job market. But Bukosky says jobs are out there — finding them is the challenge. She says there are “fantastic companies” hiring accountants, lawyers, chemists and managers in the state.
“We’re seeing a lot of demand for drivers in the area,” she says. “Day care assistants, chef positions. We see chemists, you name it.”
Get away from the computer. With the computer age upon us and the Internet as much a part of our lives as television, the temptation to limit your job search to E-mail and websites can be tempting. But while this may work for some, it is no replacement for old fashioned networking.
“I think the biggest mistake is not talking to people,” says Bukosky. “We’re sitting behind a computer screen and hitting send and saying ‘I applied for 50 jobs today.’ You may feel like you accomplished a lot because of the quantity, but they weren’t quality positions. I think that right now it’s an employer’s market. A few years ago you may have been able to apply and get an interview if you didn’t meet all the qualifications. It’s much different now.”
Bukosky recommends that instead of just sending a resume into cyberspace, speak with friends, neighbors, and peers about potential job leads. Do a targeted search in a particular field and most importantly, take responsibility for their own job search. Chambers of commerce and job fairs run by One-Step can go a long way toward improving your networking skills.
“It seems trite to say, but absolutely, it’s networking,” she says. “That’s where the chamber plays such a big roll. I’m not saying to cold-call companies or show up on their door steps, but use websites like LinkedIn, talk to friends and neighbors, mention it to people you meet in the grocery store. Always be aware that the next person you’re talking to could be the next job you have.”
Sometimes moving your job search into a high gear means simply taking a fresh look at that old resume you have been using. Resume seminars offered by the One-Stop center offer advice on making sure your accomplishments are listed, but not your hobbies. Bukosky also suggests no longer listing the dates you graduated from high school and college. Doing so can unintentionally reveal a job seeker’s age.
“I meet with people regularly, and sometimes it’s just simple things on their resumes,” she says. “We still see people come in with resumes without dates, listing their hobbies and not listing their accomplishments.”
After a career that began on the ground floor in manufacturing and moved up the ranks to human resources and employee training, Bukosky is able to see things from the employee and the employer’s point of view. “I bring a unique perspective. I remember sitting behind the table at the job fairs, so I know what companies look for,” she says.
A Trenton native, Bukosky entered the work force working for her family, the Switlick Parachute Company, which opened in the 1920s, manufacturing safety and survival equipment for the marine and aviation industries, and still operates in Trenton.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Bukosky went on to a career in staffing and human resources, employee training. She worked with Transocean, which provides offshore drilling operations in places such as the Gulf of Mexico. Transocean is the company that operated the infamous rig that was the source of the catastrophic oil spill. Her responsibility there was ensuring that employees received the required training to operate in the Gulf.
“I trained all of the staff in the Gulf of Mexico, and I made sure they met the Coast Guard regulations and guidelines for firefighting,” she says. She is a Coast Guard-certified firefighter herself.
But, unable to take the Jersey out of the girl, she moved home. She says that while many things in the city have changed, there are certain constants which she is familiar with.
“I have a different perspective, having grown up around here, and having Trenton in my blood,” she says. “I remember my father and grandfather talking about the different groups of workers they were hiring, I remember going there and seeing a lot of immigrants, and today it’s still immigrants.”