The economy may be warming up, but it's still a chilly climate for job seekers. Under the federal Workforce Investment Act, every county in the country offers free job counseling centers, known as OneStop Career Centers. To find the one nearest you, go to www.servicelocator.org or call toll-free 1-877-872-5627. Terri Carpenter, spokeswoman for nonprofit government agency Sacramento (Calif.) Works, offers some answers to readers' questions.
Q: I will graduate from a Florida law school in December, then plan to take the California Bar and seek a permanent job in Sacramento. What areas of private-sector law will be most likely to hire entry-level lawyers? To maximize my value to employers, I've been developing lots of skill sets (criminal litigation, appellate, judicial and civil externships), as well as learning Spanish and specialty accreditation. Any other tips?
A: I would suggest contacting a professional association for lawyers in the area. You should also contact local law firms to schedule an informational interview with a managing partner or other attorney to ask their tips on pursuing a legal career, as well as possible paid or unpaid internships.
For entry-level attorney job openings, visit www.lawdragon.com. You might also consider paralegal positions to gain some valuable experience and contacts.
Q: I worked 16 years for a major insurance carrier and was promoted to various management positions. Health problems forced me to take a medical leave in 2001. Since then, I've earned a teaching credential but haven't worked in 10 years. How do I explain this gap to a prospective employer?
A: You need to decide the type of industry/jobs you want and then develop customized resumes. I would suggest a functional resume that focuses on your skills, experience and qualifications for each job industry sector or occupation you are interested in. That lets you avoid listing your gaps in employment.
Q: I co-owned with my husband a small book packaging company for about 20 years. It was extremely rewarding, but changes in the publishing industry made it financially impossible to continue. My husband found other employment, but I seem to be hopelessly stuck. I have applied to countless online jobs. My two biggest negatives are that I am 62 and do not have a college education. I am in no way ready for retirement and cannot afford it anyway. Any suggestions?
A: Talk with a OneStop Career Center counselor who can look at the skills you have from your publishing background and make recommendations for jobs in other industries. You should also consider a resume workshop to be sure your experience and qualifications are detailed in the best light. A workshop on interviewing skills could also be helpful.