Valdosta Daily Times

November 10, 2013

Goodwill for All

Goodwill Career Center offers classes, services for job seekers and employers

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — It all starts with the giving.

That’s what powers Goodwill, the international organization dedicated to getting people back to work.

The profits from their retail stores, which are stocked with donated items, are used to fund their career and work centers, places people can go to develop their work skills, search for employment and connect with employers.

Most people are familiar with the retail side of Goodwill — the clothes, the furniture, more — but many don’t realize what these retail sales fund.

Goodwill Southern Rivers, for example, covers an area that extends north to Newnan and west to Phenix City, Ala., with 13 retail locations that power 10 career and training centers throughout Georgia and Phenix City.

“The word is out, but I’m still amazed at how many people still don’t know about the resources we have here, for the job seeker and the employer,” said Carla Gervin,  manager for the local Goodwill Career Center. “Most people associate us with gently used items and the retail store.”

Like the motto says, every day Gervin and the Career Center seek to develop people, change lives and build communities.

“We have some individuals come in who are self-sufficient and don’t need our help. They just need the resources, to look at the job board and use the computer. Then we have some individuals who aren’t computer savvy who take our basic computer class. Individuals come to us at various levels in their job searching.”

The Goodwill center offers a number of classes every week, geared towards helping people find jobs. Basic computer classes that teach online job searching and computer functions, resume classes that teach editing and formatting along with creating targeted resumes focused on particular jobs.

“A lot of what we have to work on is individuals identifying transferable skills. You may have done 25 years at a certain position and want that exact position. Those same skills can be applied to (other) positions.”

With an increasing number of job applications being handled online, a good resume is more important than ever for getting your foot in the door. So is following up on that resume submission.

For that, the career center offers a telephone-etiquette class that discusses making follow-up calls after submitting your application online.

When you do get that interview, they do mock interviews, where Gervin or another staff member puts them through the interview ringer, teaching them how to gear their answers towards the available job.

They also keep a job board, one in English and one in Spanish, both full of positions ranging from the entry level to the professional, serving job seekers of all ages and experiences.

And their services go beyond job search and interview prep.

Goodwill has partnered with Bank of America to offer personal finance classes where, instead of a prepared lecture or presentation, attendees ask questions about budgeting, homeownership, or whatever financial questions they have that need answers.

Spanish teacher Miryam Espinosa-Dulanto offers a business Spanish class once a week, taking students through business and conversational Spanish, as well as Spanish culture.

Along with job skills, the center does work-adjustment training, teaching “soft” skills like stress management and has partnered with Wiregrass Technical College to offer certifications in ServSafe, custodial and retail.

So far this year, the career center has served about 5,500 people, compared to last year’s 4,507.

The Business Center offers services to employers, posting and publicizing positions, doing pre-screening interviews, and offers them the use of conference rooms for interviews.

This Tuesday, Goodwill hosts a Diversity Job Fair, bringing together job seekers with employers, many of whom will be doing live interviews.

“We reached out to all employers who are actively recruiting, and we received great feedback.”

With employers such as Express Professionals, Lowe’s Distribution, Home Depot Distribution, KBR, eLead, ResCare, Moody Air Force Base, Waffle House, Kelly Services, Automotive Transfers, KAHL Center and Convergys, among others, it aims to bring together job seekers and employers.

“A lot of times, it’s just connecting the individuals to the resources they may not know exist in our community.”

The Diversity Job Fair is being held 1-5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, Goodwill Career Center, 1000 N. St. Augustine Road.

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