#Power of a job: Struggling job seeker joins the club and turns her new confidence into a job

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

Every week, we spotlight a different Power of a Job success story. This week, we bring you Nancy Cline, a job seeker struggling to find work and feeling lost. That was until she attended the “Bridge to Work” program, coordinated by Jean Edwards at WorkSource Thurston, which gave her the encouragement and confidence she needed to land a new job.

We hope you enjoy this week’s installment. Here is their story:

Nancy Cline: Hi, my name is Nancy Cline and I have a new job as a workers’ compensation claims manager, apprentice for Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (LNI).

Jean Edwards: Hi, I am Jean Edwards from WorkSource [Thurston] where I work as a LNI vocational service specialist.

Nancy: Kirk McDonnell, a wonderful WorkSource specialist, told me about a group of job seekers who meet weekly and support each other during their job search. That is where I met Jean [who coordinates the program].

I was struggling. I had come from the medical field and worked in another job for a year but now I really needed to be back to work. WorkSource gave me some resources but I was really feeling lost in my job search.

Joining this group gave me great resources. They are there to help each other and be positive while looking for a job. Because some of us have not looked for a job in a long time and it is tough to know if you are doing the right thing. I really appreciated Jean’s help. She was so welcoming and introduced me to a terrific group of people.

Jean: “Bridge to work” is a job club held at many locations. In our case, we have about 18 to 20 people all coming from different walks-of-life, and Nancy was a great participant in our group. One thing that happens when searching for job is people feel like they are the only one, and this group helps them realize they are not alone. People at our “Bridge to Work” meet others in a similar situation, who have great experience and education but are not breaking through to getting the job either. So, they encourage each other, talk about success and failures in interviews, those types of topics. Everybody helps everybody else.

Nancy: [Supporting each other] is one of the most important things that WorkSource can do. They offer many different [resources]. I did a resume class through them and some other [classes] but what WorkSource really gave me was the ability to get back out there and interview again.

Some of the contacts I made at WorkSource helped with information about LNI and guided me to find resources to prepare for an interview there.

Jean: So, we are not a placement agency. We help people understand the right strategy to look for work and [once she had it], Nancy just she flew with it. After she had a little information, she went “Yes! Now I can do this”

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

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#Power of a job: Determined job seeker and a team of WorkSource partners celebrate success

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

Every week, we spotlight a different Power of a Job success story. This week, we bring you Jose Munoz, a justice-involved job seeker, who was helped on his journey by Lupe Sanchez, Ashley Olsen and Jim Bowling from WorkSource Wenatchee Valley. At WorkSource, Jose’s determination and goalsetting helped him succeed. As Jim noted, WorkSource is not fishing for people, it is teaching people how to fish, and Jose grabbed a pole and started fishing right away.

We hope you enjoy this week’s installment. Here is their story:

Jose Munoz: My name’s Jose.

Lupe Sanchez: I am Lupe Sanchez and I work for OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center) of Washington National Farmworker Jobs Program.

Ashley Olson: My name is Ashley Olson and I work for WorkSource Wenatchee Valley.

Jim Bowling: I’m Jim Bowling Skillsource Wenatchee.

Jose: These are the people who really helped me get ahead and who changed my life. I was released in July and got to the area in August I knew I needed a job. So I just came into WorkSource and got in touch with Ashley who helped me get a resume going and immediately she asked, “What do you want to do?” I knew I wanted to get my CDL (commercial drivers license) back because, to me, that’s really, really important. My dad has a company already set out for me to, in a sense, takeover, so we got in touch with Lupe and she told me what I needed to do in order to get qualified.

Lupe: So, Jose had worked in agriculture, but it was a long time ago. I let him know about our eligibility guidelines and what he needed to do. When he came to me, he was on a mission; he had a goal. I loved that about him. When we spoke about eligibility, the agricultural part came in and soon after Ashley helped him attain a job within the agricultural sector, so he could qualify for our services.

Ashley: It was really exciting to meet with Jose because he came in and right away said, “I need a job.” The first thing I talk with job seekers about is just taking a time out. Tell me about what you’ve done, tell me about, if there were no barriers in your world, what you would want to do, and let’s try to design a plan to get there. Through his hard work and determination, we were able to piece every little bit together to get him exactly where he wanted to be.

Jose: So, when I knew I wanted to get my CDL, Lupe told me that her program only had enough funds for half. That’s when she sent me to Mr. Bowling at Skillsource and I qualified for Jim’s program initially, and upon getting my job, I qualified for Lupe’s program. That’s when I kind of unqualified for Jim’s program. [laughter]

Jim: Yes, right. Yeah! It was a process, right? [laughter]

Jose: There were several steps for me, so it kind of threw me a little bit at first. But I just knew, I have to do it.

Jim: I think I think that right there sums up Jose and what it’s been like serving him and working with him. He’s had a lot of barriers put in front of him and he keeps coming back. I was thinking about you last night, as I was driving and I thought, every single thing that we asked Jose to do – he didn’t only do it, he did it well. He did it in a timely manner and with a great attitude. In this business, it’s not fishing for people, its teaching people how to fish, and he grabbed that pole and started fishing right away. It’s been a pleasure working with him. It’s really fun to see people not only get what they want, but to overcome adversity while they’re doing it. It’s just a pleasure working with you, man. You set the bar really high for all of our other customers; you really did.

Jose: All I know is, every time I walked into WorkSource, every time I walked into Skillsource, every time I came to OIC, the first thing I heard was, “How’s it going? Man, you’re doing it! Wow!” I mean, as far as I’m concerned, they were the ones helping me out, you know? I was the one getting encouragement. I didn’t have family, nobody, no support system over here. All my support system was over the phone and then immediately when I walked in through the doors, they’re just like, “You’re doing good; you’re doing good” and I’m like, “Thanks!”

Jim: That’s kind of the epitome of what the one stop is, going back and forth between WorkSource partners. Knowing who can do what, to ultimately get to the same goal: Employment.

Ashley: I think the other cool part about Jose is every time he comes in, he’s like “I told someone else about you!” One time, he actually was sitting on the bus and got the guy on the bus next to him through the door with him. He said, “You need to talk to these people.” So not only is Jose an incredible advocate for himself, but he’s someone who is paying it forward in so many different ways and I’m just honored to work with you, man.

Jose: How can I not when you guys just helped me out, you know? I mean, as far as I’m concerned, I’m a very unemployable person, as far as my background goes and you guys helped me. You know, if you guys can do it for me, you can do it for someone else.

Jim: Along those lines, Jose, now I don’t know if you understand how powerful that is for us working with other people who may be in a similar situation. Of course, we don’t use names or anything, but we can say, this gentleman did it, so I don’t want to hear excuses.

Lupe: Yeah, exactly yeah you’ve been a great example.

Jose: Seriously. Let’s just keep going keep going forward, you don’t want to go backwards, only forward. And with this kind of help, how can you not, you know? You can do it every time.

Ashley and Jim: And you did it!

Jose: I got a job! I got my CDL!

Ashley: The highlight of this is that he went to school to get his CDL and then got hired by the truck-driving school to work there, because he impressed them so much! So this is a success story all around, in so many different ways. I couldn’t be happier to be able to work with Jose and our incredible partners in our workforce development area.

Jose: My goal has been accomplished. I got my CDL. I’m driving trucks. I love driving trucks. I got a business loan and, at the moment, I’m working for the CDL school, which is awesome.

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

To leave a comment, select the comment bubble icon next to the title of this post.

#PowerofaJob: Customer lands a job, returns to WorkSource for help hiring others

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

Every week, we spotlight a different Power of a Job success story. This week, we bring you Esther Ayers and Jeff Dunleavy, two dynamic business solutions representatives from WorkSource Everett. Their collaborative work helped a job seeker land a recruiting position, and now she is using WorkSource in a new way: to hire talent at her new company.

We hope you enjoy this week’s installment. Here is their story:

Esther Ayers: Hi. My name is Esther Ayers and I’m a business solutions representative in Snohomish County for WorkSource Everett.

Jeff Dunleavy: I’m Jeff Dunleavy, also a business solutions representative, and an apprenticeship coordinator for WorkSource Everett.

Esther: Today we share a story about Amanda, a job seeker. Amanda was laid off by a national aerospace staffing agency in October, and she reached out to me via LinkedIn in November. I was able to provide her with information about WorkSource and the services we provide. She came in, got the help she was seeking and now has a really good job.

Jeff: Amanda reconnected with WorkSource by calling our business solutions department.
I was fortunate to be able to take her call. I remember hearing the excitement in her voice as she shared how much she benefitted from WorkSource, which helped her get a job as personnel manager for Senior Aerospace AMT.

One of her first goals in her new position was to reconnect with WorkSource. She had a lot of job openings to fill and she felt confident she could fill those jobs by working with us. We discussed how WorkSource business solutions could help her connect with job seekers to fill her entry-level positions using hiring events and job fairs. The timing was perfect because we had a couple of upcoming job fairs scheduled for March and April.

Esther: On March 13, we’re holding a job fair here in Snohomish County for a number of large employers, and we’re really excited and thrilled that Amanda agreed to participate. I told Jeff that we have come full circle helping Amanda. She started out as a job seeker and is now recruiting and using WorkSource to hire positions.

I remind job seekers when they are attending networking groups, “Don’t forget that you will eventually get a job, and when you do, you could become the recruiter, then the hiring manager, and then — you never know — it’s just proof that it’s all integrated.”

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job. We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

To leave a comment, select the comment bubble icon next to the title of this post.

#PowerofaJob: Justice-involved job seeker reboots career through WorkSource

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

Every week, we spotlight a different Power of a Job success story. This week, we bring you Steven Buegler, a justice-involved job seeker from Longview. Steven utilized resources provided by WorkSource Cowlitz-Wahkiakum to re-launch his truck-driving career.

Take a few minutes to be inspired and watch Steven tell his re-employment journey!

My name is Steven Buegler, and I’ve been working with WorkSource for a little over a year now, maybe closer to a year and a half. I ended up in work release in Longview in January of 2017, and was required to come up here (WorkSource Cowlitz-Wahkiakum) on a daily basis to hunt for jobs.

I did a lot of time in prison, and am pretty computer illiterate, so it was a real challenge for me to learn what I could, but the people here at WorkSource were really, really helpful. Megan in particular. She would come in and show me how to do things on the computer.

As it worked out, I kind of went off on my own and rode my bicycle around, walked around Longview trying to interview for jobs, not online. But I still came up here every day and went on the various sites, and over a period of time I found a couple jobs, a fish-washing job and a production job at a fish plant down in Woodland. I worked at both of those for about 5 months each, but I was dissatisfied.

I came out of prison with very few marketable job-skills, so I ended up getting some low-paying jobs that had co-workers that I didn’t particularly get along with. I’m a fairly hard worker, so after a period of time I abandoned both of those jobs and pretty much quit working. I had some money I brought with me out of the joint, and some social security retirement benefits that kept me going.

I was a truck driver when I was on the street before, and somebody where I live told me that they received funding for CDL (Commercial Drivers License) class through WorkSource, so I came back up here and talked to Marie. She said “Yeah, I think we can help you!”

She introduced me to a couple other [WorkSource staff members], and I went through some workshops with Sarah. Laura Vickers took over my case and got me through the WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) program. She told me what I needed to do to qualify for funding.

So, I went through that, wrote my statements, was accepted into the program and funded for the CDL program at Lower Columbia Community College. I attended class for six or seven weeks and graduated. My prior experience as a truck driver helped me to get through that program fairly easily. I took my tests, achieved my CDL license, interviewed at a company that one of my instructors at Lower Columbia Community College worked for and hired.

I’ve been there for a couple of weeks now, doing on-the-job training (OJT) and today is my last day of OJT. Monday I will go out on my own. It seems like a nice company to work for and I am happy about the results. I am grateful to WorkSource for giving me this opportunity and optimistic about my future.

If you’re in the same boat, this would be the place to come If you’re looking for a serious opportunity. If you’re serious. Because it takes some work on your part too, it’s not just some giveaway.

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.  We also work with businesses, which are Powered by Jobs, to help them find employees.

To leave a comment, select the comment bubble icon next to the title of this post.

Great Service Doesn’t Often Make Headlines

by Employment Security Department Commissioner, Suzi LeVine

Now that the partial government shutdown and the threat of another one are finally over, I’d like to reflect on the exceptional customer service and agility demonstrated during this period by the team I am profoundly blessed to lead at the Employment Security Department.

I started at Employment Security in July. Having worked in both the private and public sectors before this, I came to the job knowing that people choosing this line of work are motivated by doing good and helping people. Their compensation packages contain no stock options.

The crucible of this partial shutdown, however, has shown me that, not only do they care about the people and businesses we serve, but they also demonstrate a resilience, creativity, thoughtfulness, and level of compassion beyond any of my expectations for customer service – especially under urgent conditions. This level of extraordinary service spans from line level to leadership.

I will be the first one (and I often am) to call out concerns when our customer service is not as it should be – and we are far from perfect. In fact, we improve and innovate only when we have freedom to learn from our failures and our fallibility. Over the past few years, some of those failures have come out in the most public of venues with TV and radio consumer watchdogs reporting on our work. And our teams have hunkered down and gotten better.

But what you don’t usually hear about publicly are the customer service calls that DON’T come in. News stations don’t usually cover when our teams are so good and competent that they proactively address people’s needs and no one knows about it. The media don’t hear about when we work for days and hours to tackle complexities and roadblocks so that the customer has a seamless and uneventful experience. “Uneventful” and “No Issues” don’t make very scintillating headlines.

In the case of this partial shutdown, let me tell you – the complexities, the shifts, the non-standard situations, and the hour-by-hour questions made “Uneventful” and “No Issues” a doggone miracle!

I want to share just three examples. Now, again, I’m not asserting that we didn’t have hiccups. Also – there are always moments when customers don’t get exactly what they want because of legal boundaries to our system. But these stories exemplify how ESD employees did everything in their power to support their fellow public servants in a very trying time.

Wage verification
When a person applies for unemployment benefits, one of the first steps is for ESD to verify that the claimant’s reported wages match what their employer reports. Only then can ESD determine if, how much, and how long to provide benefits. With the partial shutdown, the employers (federal agencies) were shut down and not available to verify wages. Within one day, ESD formed a special team to manually verify wages with paystubs and W-2s. The team also was able to get checks into furloughed federal workers’ hands within the standard time, despite the extra care needed for these claims. All of this happened with little impact to overall response time in the unemployment call centers.

Standby renewal
For both furloughed workers, and eventually, the “essential” full-time federal workers, ESD used a tool in state unemployment law called “standby.” A worker in standby status can receive benefits without having to search for work if they have a promise from their employer to return to a job. After four weeks, a standby claim must be renewed by both employee and employer, and the employer needs to re-certify that they are still planning to bring that person back to work.

Knowing that the shutdown persisted and recognizing that employers might not be able to respond after four weeks because they were still closed, ESD proactively extended standby for over 1,500 claims from furloughed workers. That way, without effort (or even awareness) on the part of the federal furloughed employees, no gap in benefits occurred. ESD’s work resulted in many customer calls we DIDN’T get! The entire agency pitched in.

Because the call center team was on high alert receiving new claims from federal workers on the day when they needed to be renewed, ESD’s policy team did all the standby extensions manually, all while continuing to guide operational staff managing an extraordinarily unique situation. I even joined the effort and made the extensions on a couple of the claims. I’m proud to say that Paul and Raul (I’ll keep their last names confidential) were able to continue receiving their benefits.

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Suzi and Joy Adams from Employment System Policy manually renewing standby status for furloughed federal workers.

Changing denials to approvals
Over the past month, almost five dozen “excepted” or “essential” workers applied for benefits but, sadly, were denied according to unemployment law. With his announcement on Jan. 24, Gov. Inslee authorized extending benefits to those “excepted” workers. The ESD team then proactively called all those who had been denied and restarted their claims.

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Gov. Inslee and Commissioner LeVine at the January 24th announcement.

The good news is that all the affected federal workers have received (or soon will receive) their back pay and ESD won’t need to receive or process claims for them. However, ESD staff is now contacting those who have received benefits and back pay and setting up plans to pay us back the benefits they received. Unemployment insurance law states that any worker who receives back pay after receiving unemployment benefits must repay benefits received.

We realize, however, that the repayment might not be easy nor immediate for many. In a final and bonus example of exceptional service, our team is prepared to work with each person individually on their repayment plans to make repayment as painless as possible. Here’s how!

The ESD team has been helping — and will keep helping — these federal workers. Some may say, “Well, they’re just doing their jobs!” That’s true. But I hope these examples help you see how ESD’s public servants, when put to a very challenging test, “just did their jobs” with thoughtfulness and compassion, and without any fanfare or headlines.