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Helping locals find work

According to CNN on Thursday, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment insurance last week was the highest since the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Also, the number of people continuing to collect benefits rose to a 25-year high.

When the hardships of being without a job strike people in Marengo County, Alabama’s Career Center System of Demopolis can help them find employment.

ACCS is more than an employment agency. It helps people create resumes and go through job training to help them better guarantee finding a job.

“Our system now is an Internet-based system,” said employment services manager Kelly Lee. “So, you don’t actually have to come into the office, although you can if you need to use our computers or if you need assistance with anything.

“We have a Web site, and you can go online and register on our Web site. Your registration creates a resume that is viewable for anybody who is actually looking for employees.”

The Web site for Job Link can be found at joblink.alabama.gov

“We also have job listings on our Web site that you can look through yourself without having to come into the office,” Lee said. “There are instructions on how to apply. There are some employers who want to take in actual paper applications, so then, you would have to come in to fill out applications for those.”

ACCS is a state agency with the Department of Industrial Relations and under the Office of Workforce Development. There is no cost to use its services.

“I do the job training part for Alabama Southern, Livingston, Delta State and Wallace,” said workplace investment counselor Freda Reynolds. “When people want to be retrained — dislocated workers, anyone who’s eligible for most of the programs, like food stamps — if they qualify for that, there may be funds for them to go to school and train.

“We have the nursing program at Livingston and Alabama Southern, and industrial maintenance with the pulp and paper program that Alabama Southern has. It’s a two-year associate degree in technical programs.”

“On the CareerLink Web site, you can search by county or by area, if they have certain areas,” said vocational rehabilitation counselor Starr Hudson of the State of Alabama Dept. of Rehabilitation Services, who often stops by the Demopolis office to assist people seeking jobs. “You can prepare a resume there, so it’s really a neat resource.”

“Right now, there have been fewer job openings,” Lee said, “but that is normal for this time of year since employers usually don’t do as much hiring. It generally picks up in January and February, anyway. Obviously, the economy would have some effect on that.”

Lee said there are many ways that people can help themselves find jobs.

“Develop a really good resume,” she said. “It needs to show your work history, your education, any skills — that’s really important. A lot of people, when they do their resume, may leave out some very important skills that they might have that an employer is looking for. Like, if they’re looking for specific knowledge on a computer program like Microsoft Word or something like that, and you just put ‘computer skills,’ and they don’t know you have the specific ability to operate a certain program. It’s important to go into detail on your resume, but at the same time, you don’t want to be too lengthy.

“Our registration does create a resume, so if you register online, then you do have that resume, and it’s out there for the employers to look at. We also have computer software to create resumes, so if they want to come in and utilize our computers to actually create their own resume, then they can do that, and we can provide assistance.”

ACCS is located on Bailey Drive behind the Regions Bank branch on U.S. Highway 80 East. For more information, call 289-0202.