Lights, camera, find a job

TV show, newspaper and auto dealer join forces to help local job seekers
By: Don Chaddock, The Telegraph
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Nearly 100 job hunters turned out for a recent early morning video resume workshop offered by KMAX TV’s “Good Day Sacramento” show, Folsom Lake Ford and the Telegraph. The project was created after the television station was forced to layoff a number of employees, according to TV personality Chris Burrous. “We laid off 30 people from our place,” he said. “I was laid off for about a month. Most people pull back into a shell, which is what they shouldn’t be doing.” He said the TV show decided to put their resources to work to help those who are struggling to find jobs. “We have cameras, microphones and a Web site,” he said. “This is something we can do.” They have been partnering with local newspapers and businesses to organize the roaming “job centers” where they offer job seekers a mini-makeover, resume writing tips and the chance to make their pitch on videotape. They can then submit those tapes with their resumes and Burrous said the unique resume option is working. “We had one guy who had sent his resume (to a business) three times, but never heard from them,” he said. “We did the video resume and now he’s been hired and is making $52,000 per year. Traditional printed resumes don’t always work.” Orangevale resident Brian Wilson has been out of work for 10 months. “I’ve done all kinds of things,” he said. “I’ve done everything from sales to the fitness industry to construction.” He said that being out of work for this long is hurting him more than just financially. “It’s huge,” he said. “Not having an income and looking for work everyday gets pretty depressing.” He said he didn’t qualify for unemployment because of a month-long stay in the hospital. “My last job was considered job abandonment,” he said. “No one knew where I was. I was working two jobs and in school. They all dropped me.” After an auto accident landed him in the emergency room, doctors discovered he had pneumonia, he said. “They put in chest tube to drain my lungs, but they didn’t work,” he said. “It was so serious, they thought I had tuberculosis so they put me in isolation.” He said his health declined from there, eventually requiring surgery. “I couldn’t work for a few months while I recovered,” he said. Now he’s living with his parents and pounding the pavement, trying to find work. “I had to move back home because I had a couple of months worth of bills and no job to pay them,” he said. Wilson’s plight is familiar to many uninsured or underinsured Californians, especially those who have lost their jobs. Phil Lebherz, with the nonprofit, was on hand to help the job seekers learn about free or low cost health insurance. “Last month we had 70,000 unique visitors to our Web site,” he said. “Many people just don’t know what’s out there. So I offered by my services to help anyone without insurance.” He said new rules have been implemented and there are options that many may not know about. “Cobra is two-thirds subsidized now,” he said. “Before, people didn’t take Cobra coverage because it was so expensive. Also, if families make less than $66,000 per year, they can get their kids under Healthy Families.” Lebherz said many go without insurance coverage because of the cost. “We’re trying to help lower the ranks of uninsured,” he said. Deborah Nixon, of Elverta, has been out of work since October. “I was the administrative assistant for a grading and paving company when I was laid off,” she said. She was ready for her videotaping session while her husband, Caleb, watched their 1-year-old son Daniel in the lobby of the auto dealership hosting the job center. Joseph Burns, of North Highlands, wasn’t wasting any time trying to find a job. “I just got laid off yesterday,” he said. “I worked for a restaurant in Citrus Heights for five-and-a-half years. It kind of came as a shock to lose my job.” He was optimistic about his chances of finding work. “I’m hoping this (video resume) will help,” he said. “I turned in a bunch of resumes yesterday, too. I’m hoping to hear back.” Jerry Hall, of Fair Oaks, has been without work for six weeks. “I’m here to do the video resume,” he said. “There is nothing coming up (for work). I hope this helps.” Hall is one of many in the construction industry to lose his job. “I’m a plasterer, so I work all over the valley,” he said. “I’m in construction and there is none right now.” Hall said he needs to find work soon. He cares for his elderly father and is the sole income for the home. “(My father) does get social security, for what that’s worth,” he said. Truck driver Delmer Holt, of Sacramento, rode the light rail to reach the one-day job center. “I’ve been driving trucks for over four years,” he said. “I’ve been out of work since the day before Christmas.” He’s been scouring job boards, newspaper help-wanted ads and looking online, all without results. “I apply at least twice a day online,” he said. “There’s nothing out there for local work. I was in the carpenters union for 26 years and have been trying to get back into that, but there’s really nothing.” He’s thankful for the unemployment insurance he receives, but he’s not looking for handouts. “I’m getting unemployment (checks), thank God, but I would like to work,” Holt said. “It’s been stressful. We’ve barely been making ends meet.” Don Chaddock may be reached