W MI Works advice for job seekers: Don’t wait

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Millions who lost their jobs in Michigan are hoping to reenter the market as the state continues to reopen, but West Michigan Works says it is seeing some issues as people start to apply.

Talent Solutions Director Brittany Lenertz says the job market in the age of COVID-19 is uncharted. One of her biggest pieces of advice: Don’t wait.

“That’s my number one piece of advice,” Lenertz said. “Then use someone like us. We have talked about one of the things we’re trying to do to connect those job seekers with those employers is we do like virtual job fairs and hiring events. You can register through our website for those and that really is that place to connect.”

Employers are actively seeking workers and are going through West Michigan Works to make some of the connections to fill vacancies.

Lenertz said standing out from a crowded hiring field may be as simple as taking a refresher course to build your confidence as the job landscape continues to trend digitally. 

“Take this time to beef up on your digital skills. It’s really really important,” she said. “Make sure you know how all these online platforms work and you’re comfortable and you’ve got accounts and you can log in and do that comfortably.”

A recent disconnect between employers and potential employees has prompted West Michigan Works to host new virtual job fairs while moving most of its resources online. It will teach you skills like setting up a Zoom call and navigating Microsoft Office. 

Lenertz also said not to be shy about telling employers what skills you already have and how those skills could translate to become a benefit and value to them.

Adapting to a digital workplace has been one of many new barriers workers have had to come to terms with. Another is child care.

“There are issues with child care, it’s an exacerbated issue now because it was an issue in West Michigan before,” Lenertz said. “There wasn’t enough, it’s expensive and people have a hard time finding places for their kids. In our current circumstances there are even less options as could care centers aren’t opening back up and many in home providers aren’t either so the gap is even wider.”

Lenertz continued to say those who can adapt to this ever-changing environment will be thankful in the long run.