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Tampa Bay job seekers ask: Who's hiring?

Unemployment runs through the Tampa Bay area like a shiver. The jobless rate is 12.3 percent, but the crisis isn't a percentage.

It's Donald Gould, out of work for 65 weeks, a sales professional who bags groceries to show his teenage sons that any work is dignified. It's Amie Devero (75 weeks), a management consultant who can't even get a job tending bar. It's Bob Mathews (26 weeks), laid off at 60 and feeling he's running out of time.

Economists talk about a jobless recovery, which is no recovery at all if you're one of the jobless.

Unemployment is certain to be one of the biggest stories of the new year in Florida, where job losses are expected to continue into summer.

The St. Petersburg Times will be following the story throughout 2010, in a series called Help Wanted.

We begin by introducing you to some of the thousands who are out there, searching. This is what desire looks like.

John M. Walton

50; New Port Richey

Weeks unemployed: 40

Previous job and salary: Window and door installer; $75,000-$100,000

Job seeking: Anything that will pay my bills

"AARRRGGGHHH, it's rough out there. I don't know if employers are looking for younger people, or what the case may be. My wife and 5-year-old son keep me plugging, and my best friend works me whenever he can. Without him, we would be on the streets."

BJ Thomas Jr.

49; St. Petersburg

Weeks unemployed: 20

Previous job and salary: Senior programmer/analyst for a brokerage; $95,000 plus bonus

Job seeking: Tech support, quality assurance, software analyst, other

"While I don't define myself by my job, I've learned unemployment does takes a toll on your confidence level. My mother encourages me, my partner challenges me, my autistic child believes in me, and my convictions keep me going."

Jesse Ziglar

23; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 16

Previous job and salary: Intern for DHL in Germany; $15,400

Job seeking: Commercial pilot

"I have a degree from a top-notch college and two internships with leading airlines —high-caliber experience and training. I've sent out around 400-500 resumes and have had two or three interviews. I am not lacking in qualifications, I just can't compete with people with experience."

Michael P. Fultz

56; Clearwater

Weeks unemployed: 70

Previous job and salary: Aerospace technical manager; $106,000

Job seeking: Project engineering/contract

"This area has some world-class companies where I feel my skill sets would be an asset, so I keep trying to get my resume in front of as many employers as possible. I have a extensive manufacturing background, and learned the business from the ground up. Eventually I truly believe there will be a good fit for me in this area."

Gary Salloum

53; Spring Hill

Weeks unemployed: 58

Previous job and salary: civil designer/AutoCAD drafter; $42,400

Job seeking: AutoCAD drafter

"Over 200 resumes sent out and only a few replies, and that was just to say thank you but we're not hiring right now. A few have said that they could use someone but nobody is ready to commit. I have done tool design, special machines and fabrication as well as assembly with 15 years experience. I have also done design in the civil engineering field for 12 years."

John Roth

47; Clearwater

Weeks unemployed: 60

Previous job and salary: IT manager; $53,000

Job seeking: IT manager

"I have more than 22 years experience in all areas of the IT field. I also have 15 years experience in dealing with restaurant IT systems. But I have recently taken a job far beneath my skill level just to keep going. All I hear is, 'Your resume looks great, but ...' (insert bogus blowoff here)."

Zachary Duda

20; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 7

Previous job: Student

Job seeking: Plumbing apprentice

"Since graduating from Erwin Tech's plumbing program, I've been unable to find a job. I'll take anything for now, fast food, retail, but would love to work with a plumbing company. I'm a hard worker and I don't give up. I've been sending my resumes, making phone calls, walking into companies. I have all my own tools and am proficient in their use."

John Krevens

58; New Port Richey

Weeks unemployed: 30

Previous job and salary: Inside sales; $40,000

Job seeking: Human resources

"My wife and I support my daughter and her 7-year-old grandson. That's my motivation. We have tapped our retirement savings to supplement this. I am conscientious, dependable, trustworthy, creative, able to multitask and have a stable work history. I'm not the kind of person to jump from job to job."

Eddie H. Diaz

58; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 84

Previous job and salary: Self employed in computers and real estate; $80,000

Job seeking: Any management or assistant management opening

"Life will give you what you give it. And all I can do in the bad economic time is keep a positive attitude and look for that next great opportunity. I'm a highly motivated person and I understand that rewards will come with hard work."

Terri Parnell

43; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 13

Previous job and salary: National sports manager at Tampa Bay & Co.; $62,000

Job seeking: Marketing or sales

"You think you are doing all the right things by networking, researching, using social media and Internet job sites with very few results. What keeps me motivated? The opportunity for a new job, learning new skills, meeting new people and my faith. It is really hard, though, and I have some bad days for sure."

Jeff Pero

45; Palm Harbor

Weeks unemployed: 104

Previous job and salary: Construction superintendent; $60,000 plus bonus

Job seeking: Superintendent or anything

"I have been in construction for over 30 years. I built my first house in Toledo, Ohio, when I was 13. My wife, Kathie, and I have been together for 29 years. We were grade school sweethearts, so you can see I believe in consistency. We have worked all our lives for what we have. It is not much but we have made it together, no help from others. We saved for retirement and now all that is gone."

Jennifer Richason

34; Largo

Weeks unemployed: 72

Previous job and salary: Client services representative; $30,000

Job seeking: Client services

"Over the last 18 months, I have had a total of four interviews. Sometimes I get a rejection e-mail, other times I don't even get a call back. I would love to be able to have my son in an exceptional school next year (after he turns 2 years old in January). I just want to get back to work so that I can help provide for my family."

Russell Muncy

62; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 26

Previous job and salary: Civil engineering; $65,000-$70,000

Job seeking: Civil engineering specialist

"Hope with no hope. Stymied in every direction. Filling out online applications. Applying for any assistance I can. Finances have been exhausted with bills mounting up. Collecting unemployment, which will run out soon. It's hard to see anything in the horizon."

Amie Devero

44; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 75

Previous job and salary: Self-employed management consultant; $63,000

Job seeking: Strategy and operations executive management

"The worst indignity has been applying for a bartending or server position (work that I did in college and graduate school) and getting rejected based on a photo, I suppose because I am in my 40s and not my 20s, even though I am absolutely qualified. I have no safety net, no family assistance, no spouse and no idea what ultimately will happen if something doesn't change very soon."

Amanda Morgan

24; St. Pete Beach

Weeks unemployed: Months

Previous job and salary: Legal clerk; $12,000

Job seeking: Legal position

"It took me nine months to find work after graduating college, but I was only offered a temporary part-time opportunity at a law firm. However, my employer could no longer afford my services and I was laid off. Why hire me? I'm a sharp young woman with a personality that can lightight up a room and I have a genuine passion for the law."

Sean M. Thompson

26; St. Petersburg

Weeks unemployed: 52

Previous job: Wendy's

Job seeking: Anything

"It has been very hard looking for work as I have a record and am on probation. But I am willing to work any type job. Any shift, any day, just as long as it is legal. What motivates me is knowing I am doing the right thing and staying out of trouble. My family encourages me not to give up."

Donald Gould

46; Wesley Chapel

Weeks unemployed: 65

Previous job and salary: Senior sales manager/general manager; six figures

Job seeking: Professional business-to-business sales

"I am not technically unemployed; I call myself underemployed, having gone from a technical sales career managing a $2 million design business to bagging groceries. I am the father of three teenage sons, and I strive to teach them the importance of working for what you need and want out of life. I want to be a role model by showing that no job is undignified."

Doreen Llerena

47; Port Richey

Weeks unemployed: 1

Previous job and salary: Home health coordinator/marketing; $60,000

Job seeking: Insurance agent

"I've just been told I will not have a job. I have been an insurance agent since 1993 and left the industry in 2007. I miss doing insurance and need to return to my true calling. The main thing that keeps me motivated is having temporary custody of my granddaughter who will be 2 years old."

Randy Peterson

58; Lutz

Weeks unemployed: 36

Previous job and salary: Sales manager; $75,000

Job seeking: Similar

"My self-worth is devastated, I have been working steady since 1964, never out of a job. I have filled out so many applications with not even a call back. As far as my self-esteem goes, this may be worst time of my life. I keep believing someone (some company) out there needs a good man."

Antonio Taylor

35; Pinellas Park

Weeks unemployed: I am employed but I generally only get scheduled for two to three days a week

Previous job and salary: Sheraton Sand Key Resort store attendant, $25,000

Job seeking: Web designer/marketing/information systems

"There is a lot of competition for jobs and having little to no experience has been a detriment, in addition to irresponsible decisions I made when I was 19 continuing to be held against me. I keep an attitude that God predestined me to do better and be better, and I will continue to do my part to walk in that destiny."

Russell Jacoby

48; Clearwater

Weeks unemployed: 35

Previous job and salary: Area manager, military grocery; $45,000

Job seeking: Grocery/retail

"Everything is online now, you don't get a chance to sell yourself to an employer. I like to talk face-to-face and show how much I want to work and make a place of business grow. We lost our house in a house fire last year, and then my job, so I'm trying to give my kids their life back."

Antwonette F. Proctor

38; St. Petersburg

Weeks unemployed: almost 15 months

Previous job and salary: Construction administrator at a bank; $40,000-$45,000

Job seeking: Banking, health care, administrative, anything

"I've never been out of work and it's a blow to the self-esteem when you can't even get hired for the simplest of jobs. I stay motivated through prayer and seeing my son. I believe things have to get better soon."

Christopher Lyon

56; Clearwater

Weeks unemployed: 46

Previous job and salary: Chef; $49,000-$64,000

Job seeking: Chef

"I have always been able to procure work through word of mouth or networking. Not now. Everybody's cutting back. I'm a talented chef with 20-plus years of experience in diversified venues. I am well-read, possess a good work ethic, and seriously need work. I'm willing to do most anything."

James P. Pendleton

58; Safety Harbor

Weeks unemployed: 24

Previous job and salary: Production supervisor; $74,000

Job seeking: Similar

"In six months I have had approximately six job interviews. I was called back for a third interview once. But I'm an upbeat person. I keep my computer and time management skills sharp every day. I exercise daily. I perform part-time in a classic rock band, and I'm active in my church choir. My family supports me 100 percent and I'm grateful for that."

David Starr

45; Hudson

Weeks unemployed: 45

Previous job and salary: Tax professional; $35,000

Job seeking: Bookkeeper

"I have faith in the free market system and the American ideal that work is available to all who really want it. I also am seeing tentative signs of an economic recovery, although it appears that it is going to be only slow but steady."

Shawn Briggs

55; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 32

Previous jobs and salaries: English teacher, broadcast journalist; $25,000-$95,000

Job seeking: Search engine optimization and online content writer

"I am one of the uncounted: never collected unemployment, and chose to enter this job market. I work three part-time jobs and am grateful for them. In me, an SEO client gets the research and writing skills of a journalist, grammar of an English teacher, and verifiable work ethic and flexibility."

Barbara Spaulding

55; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 15

Previous job and salary: Disaster reservist for the Federal Emergency Managment Agency: $55,000-$71,000

Job seeking: Nonclinical health program coordinator

"Looking for work has been challenging, frustrating, exhausting, stimulating. At any one networking event, I see people who are just as bright, motivated, educated and well-spoken as I am."

James Kosloski

51; Largo

Weeks unemployed: 76

Previous job and salary: Sales; $35,000

Job seeking: Electrical/maintenance

"I am a competent and reliable tradesman with over 30 years experience in all aspects of building maintenance, primarily as an electrician. What keeps me going? Knowing my responsibilities as a husband and father and that there is a company out there that's going to get a good man."

A. Colin Flood

51; Temple Terrace

Weeks unemployed: 40

Previous job and salary: Technical writer; $65,000

Job seeking: Same

"Not all hopes are barren; there is a nibble here and there, a twinkle of something possible, a chance the miners at the bottom of the shaft might somehow be rescued. So you ignore the constant calls, the daily letters, the notices on the door. You iron your best shirt, put on your lucky tie, count your quarters and go out to greet the world."

Shaun Cromartie

44; Brooksville

Weeks unemployed: 17

Previous job and salary: Plant maintenance for a mining company; $28,600

Job seeking: Laborer, warehouse, industrial, office

"The fact that I am hardworking, honest and loyal leads me to believe that a potential employer will undoubtedly hire me again. I have initiative, drive and determination to be an asset in any job."

Lee Latimer

42; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 3

Previous job and salary: Human resources liaison; $49,000 plus bonus

Job seeking: Human resources generalist

"Looking for work is a full-time job itself. Due to my wife homeschooling our three kids, I provide the only full-time income. Providing for them keeps me motivated. I'm a team-focused human resources professional with expertise in benefits administration and employee relations. I have a passion for providing excellent service."

Andrew Boggs

29; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 4

Previous job and salary: Sprinkler fitter apprentice; $24,000

Job seeking: Same

"This is the second time I have been laid off in five months. It's almost impossible to find a job with what I know how to do. I don't have work without new construction. My 3-year-old son and my wife are the main reason that I keep going. If I don't work, they won't have anything."

Richard Joudrey

54; Lutz

Weeks unemployed: 75

Previous job and salary: Vice president for community development, $200,000

Job seeking: Anything that will pay my mortgage

"I have spent my life training for a career in the home building industry. I obtained a civil engineering degree at age 40. Designing and building great communities is my dream. Two- and-a-half years after receiving the job of a lifetime, I was laid off."

Samuel Teresi

53; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 30

Previous job and salary: Marketing director at Fairwinds Treatment Center; $80,000

Job seeking: Marketing/community relations

"What motivates me? My faith in God. My encouraging family. The elderly I spend time with in the nursing home. The homeless I serve at Metropolitan Ministries. I want employers to know I'm passionate and enjoy working on a team and serving with excellence. My personal philosophy is doing quality work and leading a life of integrity."

Steven Freedman

59; Treasure Island

Weeks unemployed: 130

Previous job and salary: HR information systems manager; $129,000

Job seeking: HR director/manager

"I moved to the Tampa Bay area so my wife could pass away from cancer overlooking the gulf, as was her wish. Doing so required taking an early retirement. The timing of events put me in an upside-down mortgage situation. I find work or lose my domicile."

Carol Hess

61; Palm Harbor

Weeks unemployed: 32

Previous job and salary: Metrics reporting analyst; $56,000

Job seeking: Performance data analysis

"My position was outsourced to Brazil. It has been frustrating applying for jobs only to find out many never existed. I've always been lucky enough to just move into a new job. This time is different, with so much competition. Being around others has helped. The Tarpon Springs Job Club is a huge support group. WorkNet Pinellas has also been very supportive."

Dick Kane

55; St. Pete Beach

Weeks unemployed: 52

Previous job and salary: Vice president, Kaplan University; $240,000

Job seeking: COO or similar

"I belong to two support groups. I could staff a Fortune 100 executive team using just the friends that I have made during my job search. It has been very hard to do things like accept unemployment, ask Wells Fargo for help on our mortgage, and apply for over 100 executive positions and not be hired."

Katie Saylor

32; St. Petersburg

Weeks unemployed: 22

Previous job and salary: Office manager for family printing company that went out of business; $15,000 for part-time work

Job seeking: Office work

"It is really hard to stay motivated. The only thing I can say that keeps me going is that it is the holiday season and most companies are probably waiting to hire new employees. I just keep that in my mind."

Bob Mathews

61; St. Petersburg

Weeks unemployed: 26

Previous job and salary: Senior provider relations representative; $57,000

Job seeking: Marketing, sales, even clerical

"I was laid off four days before my 61st birthday. It has been a roller coaster of hopes and dashed hopes. As time goes on and all I do is get even older, sheer panic takes over because of finances."

Evelyn G. Moore

63; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 32

Previous job: Tax office manager

Job seeking: Writing; health care; other

"I have a master's in health care administration but cannot get hired because I do not have clinical experience. I can work without benefits, but I need to supplement my civil service retirement because my husband does not make enough to support us both. I have an adult disabled son whom I help. I have to keep going because of him."

Janie Dawes

53; Indian Shores

Previous job and salary: Senior managing consultant for IBM, $135,000

Weeks unemployed: 32

Job seeking: Human resources/information technology project or implementation manager/business analyst/employee relations professional (or any job in which I can contribute to others' success and make a difference).

"For Sale. Critical Thinker with Heart. Gently Used."

Bruce Tabor

47; St Petersburg

Weeks unemployed: 93

Previous job and salary: Geographic information system technician; $29,500

Job seeking: Similar

"When I was young, untrained, undisciplined, and inexperienced, it was not a shock when I was out of work. But I now have a B.S. in environmental science and over three years of real experience, and am having more trouble getting back to full-time work than ever before. I am working as a parts driver at $8.30 an hour — and glad to get it."

George Quiterio

51; Largo

Weeks unemployed: 26

Previous job and salary: Senior business analyst; $70,000 plus bonus

Job seeking: Analyst (health care and insurance)

"This job market is challenging, yet not as dire as back in 1980, when I graduated college and the national unemployment rate was over 10 percent. And it's not as bad as the aftermath of 9/11, which had a global ripple effect on unemployment. Why hire me? I am a quick study, who has a knack for identifying business processing improvements."

Bethany Schoenick

39; Tampa

Weeks unemployed: 36

Previous job and salary: Senior project manager, $118,000 plus bonus

Job seeking: Project manager

"This has been a huge blow to my psyche. I'm used to simply posting my resume and having my choice of positions within two weeks. Not having a position has really forced me to reconsider who I am if I'm not a project manager."

Colleen Coletti-Pasquinucci

50; Gulfport

Weeks unemployed: 20

Previous job and salary: Construction laborer, $21,000

Job seeking: Anything at $11 an hour or more

"Because all my experience apparently counts for nothing and my age and gender seem to be an issue, I decided the best course of action is to attend school in January to be retrained for yet another job skill. I already hold certifications in both pharmacy and construction."

Laurie Halverson

49; St. Petersburg

Weeks unemployed 52

Previous job and salary: Administrative assistant; $41,000.

Job seeking: Administrative/executive/office assistant

"I am a giver and a provider and have always been able to be there for those in need, but now I am the one in need. Any employer looking for an office assistant to handle any administrative duty efficiently, professionally and promptly, then I am your person."

On the Web: See videos of job seekers and check out our Help Wanted blog at

Employers: Want to contact someone here? E-mail Andy Boyle at

Find stories, ideas and information on our Help Wanted blog,

Tampa Bay job seekers ask: Who's hiring? 12/31/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 18, 2010 12:01pm]
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