Some job seekers need a second chance

May 5, 2014 

Mary Helen Kress

Ashley is a young woman with two girls, ages 2 and 3 years old. Because of a 2009 felony offense, her background had become a barrier to employment. As hard as she tried, she ultimately was unable to provide for her daughters and turned to the Department of Children and Families for cash assistance. The agency then referred Ashley to CareerSource Suncoast for help finding a job.

There are so many like Ashley who have no choice but to seek public assistance. While there are many tools and resources available to assist job seekers with employment, what Ashley needed was a support system to guide her along the way to a new job. A difficult situation was turned into a positive outcome by providing Ashley guidance, mentoring, coaching and advocacy in order to move her from cash assistance to an economically self-sufficient future and the ability to provide for her family.

CareerSource Suncoast has a team of talented professionals who can assess and identify the individual needs of people who are unable to find employment on their own. Support includes guidance on conducting an effective job search, resumes tips, interviewing techniques, appropriate attire for the workplace, life skills workshops, skills training and access to financial support services.

Ashley had a positive attitude and great follow-through, both important attributes for a serious job seeker. She came to rely on CareerSource Suncoast when situations arose during her journey that she was unsure how to handle. Ashley's goal was to secure a health care-related job but she was turned-down for interviews because of the blemish on her record. CareerSource Suncoast staff took steps to make it possible for the state to issue a waiver related to her record. They also contacted employers that had jobs in her field to line-up interviews.

Within three weeks, Ashley had an interview and was hired on the spot. Nearly three months later, the employer reported that Ashley has been a great employee and they were

pleased they hired her.

We have found that people in situations such as Ashley's are not bad people, they were just in a bad situation. Further, we found that their past does not define them or their future. Fortunately, Ashley was given a second chance by an employer. She can now care for her two young girls, and she is on the road to economic self-sufficiency. There are others like Ashley who need a second chance, and we encourage businesses to create those opportunities. Without a second chance, those individuals that have resorted to crime or other means to support their family will have no choice but to return to their old ways.

Mary Helen Kress, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast, a non-profit corporation that provides talent sourcing and development services for businesses, job seekers and workers in Manatee and Sarasota Counties, writes a monthly column on employment issues.

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