Jobs service touts new features

SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times Job seeker Brittni Keyser uses a laptop at the OhioMeansJobs Center on Friday to take advantage of employment resources available at the facility on Gilman Avenue in Marietta

By Sam Shawver

Special to the Times

An open house and ribbon-cutting event marked the official grand opening of the OhioMeansJobs Center at 1115 Gilman Ave. Friday, although the center has actually been open for business in the Washington County Job and Family Services building since July 1.

“The whole purpose of this is to reintroduce our concept to the community. Events like this help get information about our services out there,” said Tom Ballengee, director of Washington County Job and Family Services, which took over the OhioMeansJobs contract on July 1 of this year.

The local OhioMeansJobs Center was previously located at the Washington-Morgan Community Action offices on Putnam Street in Marietta.

Ballengee said the Gilman Avenue location has plenty of parking as well as office space inside the building to serve both employers and those seeking employment.

Just inside the OhioMeansJobs entrance at the north end of the Job and Family Services building is a room where job seekers have access to at least eight laptop computers, including one station for people with disabilities.

“When they come in for a job search they’re logged in and register, then we help them with building a resume or developing a career profile,” said Lisa Goudy, a full-time aide at the OhioMeansJobs Center.

“Depending on their computer skills, we can provide assistance on the laptops, or the job seekers can work on their own,” she said. “And we will spend time helping them become comfortable with the system. We want them to be able to work at their own pace.”

Friday was 27-year-old Brittni Keyser’s first time at the jobs center.

“I like the way it’s set up, it helps a lot with my job searching,” she said. “It only took about 20 minutes to develop my resume. It was very easy.”

New job seekers go through an orientation process to learn about all the resources available through OhioMeansJobs.

That includes everything from resume writing assistance to education and job referrals.

But assisting those looking for employment is only half of the service provided at the center. Ballengee said employers can also use the facilities and computer resources to look for and interview potential employees.

He noted the local Manpower office will be conducting interviews for truck assembly workers during one of the center’s mini job fairs that begins at 9 a.m. Oct. 31.

“We can also create an online folder of resumes for employers, or print employee resumes for them,” Ballengee said.

He added that employers can focus an employee search based on details like the level of education the employer needs or how far a potential employee is willing to travel to work.

“And we want to make sure all small businesses know that all of our services, for employers and employees, are completely free,” Ballengee said. “We want people to become aware of what this service can do for them. Taxpayers are paying for this service and they are free to take advantage of it.”

Since taking over the three-year OhioMeansJobs contract in July, the facility logged more than 1,000 visits at the new location, and 421 of those have been first-time clients during the first quarter of operations from July through September.

Washington County Commission President Ron Feathers said the county’s estimated unemployment rate is about 6.4 percent.

“But I look at that as more than 93 percent employment in this county,” he said. “For years businesses have been somewhat confused about where to go and what to do to hire the employees they need. Now this is truly a one-stop shop facility for employers and employees.”

“Our job services were pretty fractured before this,” added Commissioner Rick Walters, noting many services for employees and employers required them to travel to offices in different locations.

“But this is the ideal scenario, where employers seeking employees have a place to go, and potential employees can search for employers,” he said.

Ballengee said another plus is the OhioMeansJobs proximity to Job and Family Services offices in the same building where job seekers can be referred to receive other assistance they may need while looking for employment.

At a glance

About the OhioMeansJobs Center

¯ Located on the north end of the Washington County Job and Family Services building at 1115 Gilman Ave. in Marietta.

¯ Provides an entire array of free services for both employers and job seekers, including employee screening and interviewing facilities, assistance with resume development and job referrals.

¯ More information is available by visiting the center or the website.