While the economy continues to add jobs, millions of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed. For those who are out of work or who feel stuck in their current job, help is available this holiday season.

For the 31st consecutive year, job seeking Americans will be able to obtain free advice from the professional career transition coaches at global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which will suspend normal business operations for two days over the holidays to provide the service.

The annual job-search call-in will be held Tuesday, December 27, and Wednesday, December 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT. The telephone number is 312-422-5010. Job seekers can get more information about the call-in at firm’s website.

“The economy has improved significantly over the last several of years, but that does not mean it’s easy to find employment. In fact, the hiring process is taking longer than ever, as companies spend more time trying to find the candidates who will be the best fit,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

As an outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas provides job-search training to individuals who have been laid off and receive the service as part of their exit package. The two-day call-in is the only time that the general public can take advantage of Challenger’s job-search expertise.

As of October, there were still nearly 7.8 million unemployment Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were another 5.9 million who want a job but were technically not in the labor force and not counted among the unemployed because they did not actively seek employment during the month.

In addition to the ranks of Americans who remain out of work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted nearly 5.8 million people who are working in part-time positions because of slack business conditions or they could not find full-time jobs.

“One of the primary takeaways from the presidential election is that millions of Americans are feeling left behind in this economy. They read about and see evidence of a strengthening economy, but they are not enjoying its fruits. For many, the obstacles are substantial and beyond an individual’s control, including the globalization of trade and manufacturing, advancing technology, and an education system that fails to prepare those who don’t attend college,” said Challenger.

“However, for many, many others the biggest obstacle is simply not knowing how to find a better job. Finding, competing for, and, ultimately, winning a job are not, by any means, easy tasks, even in the strongest economy. These are skills that are not taught in school. Most people read a few articles on the Internet and that’s it. But, like every other skill, finding a job takes practice, discipline, and persistence.

“The biggest mistake people make is to stop practicing their job search once they have find employment. But, your next job search starts on the first day of your new job. Not only should you be constantly updating your resume with the new skills and experience gained on the job, but you should be continuing to expand and nurture your professional and social networks, which are so vital to a successful job search,” said Challenger.

“Most people do not know where to start with the job search. They gravitate toward the internet, where they get stuck in a loop of sending out electronic resumes and waiting for a response. But, even in the best economy, that strategy will rarely yield result. It takes cold-calling, networking, asking for advice and favors, and selling yourself. All of these fall outside of the comfort zone for most people.

“As much as we would like to, our call-in is not intended to place callers into open jobs. Nor, can our coaches review callers’ resumes or point them toward specific opportunities. What they can do is help callers with networking strategies and interviewing techniques; provide advice on how to answer employer questions about a long absence from the workplace or a termination; or suggest ways to uncover the hidden job market,” said Challenger.


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