On Thursday, March 22, the Vermillion office of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation will offer locals a chance to hone their job-searching skills.
The Job Search Assistance Program (JSAP) has been around for more than a decade, and provides attendees with information pertaining to all areas of acquiring new employment, from coping with job loss, through search methods, applications, cover letters, résumés and the interview process.
"(Attendees) are going to walk out of here with a lot of good information," said office manager Dan Hart. "They're going to have that resource manual that they flip through as their building their résumé or their cover letter. That are some good exercises in there, an hand-outs and examples that they can use for reference."
Generally, between six and eight people take the class at one time, with as many classes scheduled as needed.
"We've never had more than two in a month," Hart said.
Hart added that JSAP was designed to fill the needs of everyone who takes it, no matter the kind of job for which they are searching.
Many of the questions that are asked during class-time pertain to applications and résumés, he said.
"Tricky little things come up that people don't pay attention to sometimes," he said. "Things change from application to application. For example, on one application they might ask for three professional references, on another they might ask for three professionals and two personals.
"People don't always have those prepared, and don't always read to see if there's something different than the last one they filled out," he said.
Hart said this was never more true "when the economy went down" and many of JSAP's participants were coming off 20- to 30-year stints with the same employer, never having written a résumé before.
"Those people were just frightened, so we tried to ease those fears a little bit and show them it's pretty easy," Hart said. "We've got programs here that make it even easier, and we're all available to assist. We'll do everything but type it for them, basically."
Further assistance also is offered in one-on-one sessions that take place after the class is over, he added.
Another beneficial aspect of JSAP involves finding out which companies are hiring.
"When people start looking for a job, they look in the want ads," Hart said. "That's where they first look. Well, when a business is looking to hire, that's the last place they look for an employee. So, that's a piece of knowledge that somebody's really happy to get, because they've been doing it backwards."
Attendees also learn what qualities employers are interested in, as JSAP often features a short presentation from a local businessperson.
"We basically just ask them to come in and talk about what they look for in an employee, so that people can hear first-hand what a hiring manager might be looking for in the area," Hart said.
Participants often have little negative to say about JSAP, he said.
"I would venture to say 80 percent of them are happy they came," Hart said. "I get comments all the time that it's a great course. A lot of people say they would like to see it lengthened."
JSAP will be held at the Vermillion office of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with one hour for lunch, on March 22.
It is provided at no charge, but interested persons must reserve a spot by calling (605) 677-6900 by 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 20.
For more information, visit www.sdjobs.org.