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Looking for a Job? BBB advice on finding help for the hunt

6/2/2008

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The unemployment rate in the U.S. is currently at 5.0 percent, but revised projections from the Federal Reserve forecast that rate increasing to 5.5-5.7 percent in the coming months. This means more businesses will be handing out pink slips as they cope with a declining economy and individuals will be forced to rethink and cautiously approach career moves. With an uncertain economy and employment outlook, Better Business Bureau is offering guidance to job seekers to help them understand the kinds of career counseling and job placement assistance available and ensure they enlist the aid of trustworthy organizations.

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 3.8 million job openings in the U.S. in February 2008. Even though that sounds like a lot of jobs, there are more than 7.6 million Americans who are currently unemployed and looking for work—approximately 800,000 more than were unemployed this time last year. Industries in which jobs were lost have generally remained consistent, mainly centered in areas hard hit by the housing downturn: construction, manufacturing and retail trade. Jobs have recently been added in health care and professional and technical services.

“With the unemployment rate projected to rise, millions of Americans may soon be struggling to find work,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “There are many places job hunters can go for help landing a job, but they need to make sure they’re using an organization they can trust – this is as easy as checking the business out at BBB.org.”

Public Employment Service (a.k.a Job Service) is a federally-funded and state-operated program that is available in all 50 states. Not only does this service have nearly 1,700 offices across the country providing free assistance to job hunters, it also manages America's Job Bank (AJB) which lists hundreds of thousands of job opportunities. For more information visit: http://www.jobbankinfo.org/

Temporary (or Temp) Services place employees at companies which are looking for temporary help. Job seekers do not pay the temp service. Temporary placement is one way unemployed workers can supplement their income while looking for a more permanent job, and temporary positions can sometimes evolve into full-time positions.

Employment Agencies search for employees to fill permanent full or part-time positions at businesses. Typically, businesses pay for the service of the employment agency but, in some cases, the job hunter might be on the hook for fees. 

Executive or Career Counseling Services help job hunters evaluate their career path and provide guidance on resume writing, interview techniques and presentation. Career counselors may even help job seekers identify businesses at which to apply. Counseling services typical charge individuals as much as several thousand dollars for this service and typically don’t guarantee job placement.

BBB offers the following advice for job hunters when enlisting the help of an agency or counselor to find a new job:

• Always check out a job placement or career counseling organization with BBB first. Job hunters can visit www.bbb.org to view reliability reports that show not only how many complaints a company has received, but also if they work to resolve disputes with clients.

• In some cases, state laws apply to job placement companies or career counselors so job seekers should make sure they’ve enlisted the help of a company that meets all licensing requirements. BBB also recommends visiting the National Board for Certified Counselors online at, www.nbcc.org, to search for certified professionals.

• Job hunters should carefully review any contracts for counseling or placement services, making sure all oral promises are included, even if that means taking the contract home and having a trusted friend or relative also review the document.

• Job seekers should be wary of paying upfront fees to a placement agency and be extremely cautious when giving out credit card or bank account information.

For additional BBB advice on finding a job, including tips and techniques for writing a resume and performing well in job interviews, go to www.bbb.org.

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