January 17, 2003 — “Ben” is one of 20,000 Utahans who lost his job last year. Due to the downturn in the economy, last March the 36-year-old was laid off from his full-time investment-banking job. A few months later Ben, who has an M.B.A., landed another job as a financial advisor, but he continues to look for a managerial position with a solid company that will grow. Recently he was one of 150 applicants for one position in the financial sector. He describes the job market as “incredibly bleak.”
Since being laid off, Ben has worked with several career services companies. However, he says, it is the Alumni Career Services program at the University of Utah-and the resources it offers-that has been the most helpful. The program, initiated last September by the U’s Career Services and Alumni Association, assists University alumni, who have been in the work force for several years, who may have been laid off or lost jobs due to the slowing economy.
“The bull market employment boom of the 90s has taken a serious downturn. The desire for career assistance is now greater than ever,” notes Julie Swaner, the alumni counselor who works full-time on the project. “Job-seeking individuals-from all careers and career backgrounds-must refresh, refine and often relearn their job-search skills.
“There are jobs out there. But now it’s different. You don’t just pick up the newspaper and go apply for a job. It requires more strategizing, more thorough preparation, being more clever and networking. And it’s taking about twice the time to land a job,” Swaner says.
While some companies provide out-placement services for laid off employees, most are simply too small to offer this option. Often, personal coaching and private career services programs are very expensive and not an option for those who have just lost a job. The Alumni Career Services is a place where information and assistance is available for a nominal fee.
For $100, the new program provides:
- A one-year membership in the U of U Alumni Association
- Data base access into a job-listing Web site
- A proprietary tool called “Career Search,” an exhaustive compendium of industries in Utah and across the country
- “Career Tools,” an Internet-based service that contains a comprehensive collection of job search and career management resources, including a job search spider (Web crawler) that pulls together more than four million job postings, which can be queried
- Interview Mastery™, the Internet’s first and only Web-based multi-media application to improve job seeker interview skills
- A dedicated alumni career counselor
- Vault online (professional books online)
- One-on-one counseling
- Membership in Job Club, a networking group that meets for two hours weekly to listen to speakers and gather information on resume building; company research /networking; interviewing; and salary negotiations.
“We also help job applicants learn about positioning statements, negotiating salaries, networking and utilizing available resources,” Swaner says. “We give our alumni the tools to help them find a job-and to get them back into the work place.”
Alumni Career Services holds a weekly orientation on Tuesdays to familiarize new candidates with the program’s resources. Free of charge, the orientation is held in room 380 of the University’s Student Services Building from 5 until 6 p.m. Registration is required. More than half of those who attend the orientation join the program. For more information, call 801-585-5036, or go to http://careers.utah.edu and click on “alumni.”