HINSDALE – No matter the age – college graduates, middle-aged adults or even those wanting to reenter the workforce – the job market often is bleak.
“There are three people for every open job, and there’s like three million people out of work,” Judy Wolthausen of Hinsdale said. “It’s pretty hard to get that job you want.”
In the midst of the dire job market, Wolthausen was set to retire when she felt it was time to give back and help others. In 2008, Wolthausen decided to volunteer about three times a week at the People’s Resource Center in Westmont, where she helps people in their quest for employment.
When first meeting a client, Wolthausen begins by making the person feel comfortable and explaining her background.
“I probably spend half of my time counseling, because everybody who’s out of work their self-esteem goes down, and they get very depressed,” Wolthausen said.
Wolthausen used to work at Sears, where she was in charge of hiring programmers, so she knows what employers are looking for in a resume and how to carry oneself during an interview.
One of the problems job seekers find is how stiff the competition is, and employers aren’t making the process any easier. Wolthausen said employers are demanding the “perfectly fit person” for what they need, do not want to spend money on training and won’t hire people if they haven’t had experience because they’re bound to find someone with experience in the vast amount of resumes received.
“It’s just very hard to get the attention of an employer today unless someone recommends you,” she said. “Seventy-five percent of the jobs that are gotten today are because of the recommendation.”
Wolthausen sees a full spectrum of ages, including those in their early 20s all the way up until one client who was in his 80s.
“I have several people with master’s degrees who can’t find work,” she said.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Wolthausen said more than two-thirds of the people she helps find jobs. Some of her tips include making a one-page resume that includes key qualities and only shows the past 10 years of experience. She said employers are looking for excuses to throw away resumes, so having a solid introduction is the first step.
She also does mock interviews and said some answers could make or break a job, including talking too much about personal information.
“You really shouldn’t be talking about your family or how many kids you have,” she said. “Those are all red flags to employers, because they start thinking about medical payments and things like that. It should be professional.”
One of Wolthausen’s favorite success stories was a young woman who emigrated to the United States from Russia and was living on almost nothing. On top of that, she was pregnant and had a disadvantaged child at home. Wolthausen counseled her and eventually got her employed at T.J. Maxx.
“It wasn’t a big job or anything, but it solved a big problem,” she said.
What Wolthausen enjoys the most though is not just the help she’s providing, but the PRC in general, which helps people in need every day. She also loves seeing the transformation people make.
“They sit down, they don’t have any hope and as I work with them, I see a change, and I see them have more confidence in themselves,” she said.