The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
It takes more than filling out an application or sending in a resume to land a job these days. In the down economy, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier has made it a mission to give those out of work the tools they need to find success.
Yesterday, Speier, D-San Mateo, hosted her sixth local Job Hunters Boot Camp on the campus of the College of San Mateo with about 700 attending. Her first was back in January 2010 and she intends to keep putting on the events until they are no longer needed.
Her message to job hunters yesterday was to take advantage of the resources available to them and to make at least one meaningful contact with a prospective employer before the day ended.
More than 20 companies were represented at the event with several other resource tables set up to give job seekers advice on how to improve interview skills or how to land a job right out of college.
Finding jobs for recent graduates, veterans and mature workers was the focus of yesterday’s workshop.
Making connections and learning to network are the keys to finding work, Speier said.
Recent college graduate Mitch Uzunoglu attended yesterday’s event in hopes of landing a writing job.
Uzunoglu attended CSM and graduated from San Francisco State University last year with an undergraduate degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing.
Uzunoglu was encouraged by comments Speier made yesterday to the crowd of job seekers.
“She spoke to everyone. Not just one group but to all of us,” he said.
He is not nervous, however, about his prospects in finding a job.
“If I don’t get a job today I will keep trying. I don’t think the job market is as bad as people think it is,” he said.
Another job hunter who did not want to give his name, however, said tools and networking are fine but the real problem is a lack of jobs.
“No matter how many lectures I hear about updating my resume or upgrading my interview skills it does not change the fact that there aren’t any jobs,” said the retired civil engineer.
Lines were long at some employer tables, including the Pacific Gas and Electric table. Burlingame-based Virgin America also attended the event.
Virgin America plans to hire about 800 people in the coming year, with many of them being hired locally, said company representative Frank Tizedes. Jobs will be available for in-flight services, finance and information technology, he said.
Virgin America has now participated in four of Speier’s boot camps, Tizedes said.
“We look to hire people with that entrepreneurial spirit, those who are upbeat with lots of energy,” he said.
The CSM Cosmetology Department offered free makeovers to attendees yesterday and a student-driven initiative called Project Smile offered free photo services to job hunters for their LinkedIn profiles.
“Many people do not post photos on their LinkedIn profiles and I wondered if it was because of a psychological barrier or some other issue,” said CSM student Alisha Willis.
LinkedIn was a big topic at yesterday’s event with a workshop set up to teach people how to use the professional social networking website.
“LinkedIn is a priceless tool. Recruiters use it and if you do not use it you are at a severe handicap,” said Jenny Kahn, who conducted a workshop yesterday on how to use LinkedIn.
Speier encouraged those who have been out of work for a long while and have become frustrated in the job hunt to “not give up” yesterday.