'Tis the season for things to reopen, and Bradford’s Pennsylvania Careerlink® office is welcoming walk-in visitors. Careerlink offers a number of resources to both job seekers and employers who are hiring, and now is the time to take advantage of those resources.

“People are surprised at everything we have to offer,” said Ron Hammersley, site administrator for Bradford’s Pennsylvania Careerlink® office as he outlined the various ways visitors can find help at the location at 40 Davis Street.

Locally, there are six counties (McKean, Potter, Elk, Cameron, Jefferson and Clearfield) served by Careerlink offices, all of which are again open to walk-ins.

When it comes to the help an individual may need to get a job, there’s no area that can’t be addressed.

“The biggest difficulty is to get people in the door,” Hammersley said. “People — and businesses — don’t know the opportunity is there. We really want people to reach out. I think we are a good fit to help them succeed.”

He attributed that in part to the slow adjustment to various locations reopening, as well as the availability of increased unemployment and a lingering hesitation to go back to work after a year of COVID-19 related concerns.

While job hunting after the coronavirus pandemic may seem like a challenging task to tackle, it would be beneficial to do so sooner rather than later.

“It might be better to find a job now, when the pool of those looking is smaller,” Hammersley said. He explained that, while things are looking up now, there are still uncertainties related to COVID-19. However, at some point in the future, the additional unemployment benefits will no longer be available and a larger number of people will be looking for work.

The office has a navigator, who welcomes anyone who enters and does triage to figure out the services the individual needs.

Services are available for those who may be unemployed and seeking a job or for those who feel they cannot move forward in their current position and hope to find another career path. The opportunities and resources Careerlink offers are key: career counseling, job training, computer training, career workshops, resume preparation, interview techniques, career exploration and veteran services. There are also virtual workshops and work readiness services.

One important weekly resource for job seekers is a Virtual Job Club. Typically held on Thursdays, this club provides a chance for those on the hunt for a job to talk to others and ask questions or share the ups and downs of the process. Like-minded people or those who are facing the same situation can be a benefit, particularly in a time when society as a whole dealt with isolation for a year due to COVID-19. There is a program called the Connection Cafe that is similar in focus but intended for younger job seekers.

Individuals who are age 16 to 24 and not currently attending school must meet one of the following criteria in order to be eligible for the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs: be verified as low-income and basic skills deficient, a school dropout, English language learner, homeless, runaway, in foster care or has aged out of foster care; pregnant or parenting or have a documented disability.

For those individuals, there are workshops that cover resumes, interview skills, and job applications. There are also mentoring opportunities and on-the-job training, paid work experience, post secondary training, GED completion and financial literacy education and comprehensive guidance and counseling.

Referrals are also done within the office, providing access to other needed services.

“It’s a matter of what you want to do and how much you want to do,” Hammersley explained.

“We try to help people think outside of the box,” he said, explaining that while an individual may have certain talents or strengths, if they add to those, they have the chance to expand abilities and find a job that suits them.

For businesses, there are a variety of employer services available, including organization of Job fairs.

Hammersley noted that a few local businesses have already scheduled open job opportunity days at Careerlink in the near future.

“We are looking forward to that,” he said.

He mentioned strong partnerships with several local businesses, including Georgia-Pacific, Zippo Manufacturing Co., and Mama Janes Eatery.

“For those seeking jobs and for employers, the first thing to think about is Careerlink,” Hammersley said.

While the doors are open, that does not mean virtual services have ceased or that some of the changes made during the coronavirus pandemic will be forgotten.

One benefit of post-pandemic use of the Careerlink resources is a new, toll-free number: 844-PACALINK (1-844-722-2546). That number will allow the caller to choose your county of residence, giving residents of all six counties one number to call and letting the phone system transfer callers to the right county office. Meanwhile, for the staff of Careerlink, one phone number instead of six means a simplification of the process to create flyers used by all regional offices.

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