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Virtual Employment Workshop


CNE workshop helps make ‘job of finding a job’ easier

By Dick Maloney

While the process of applying for a job looks different than it did 20, 10, five or one year ago, the basics of the search and the skills required remain essentially unchanged.

Clermont Northeastern School District students and parents learned that Feb. 23 when the high school presented an online cover letter and resume workshop. Representatives of five companies, as well as high school staff, presented advice on securing employment during the hour-long event, which included 30 minutes of basic introductions and 30 minutes of breakout rooms.

The program, according to CNE High School Principal T.J. Glassmeyer, is part of CNE’s literacy push. Last summer, the district was awarded Comprehensive Literacy Grants from the State of Ohio for the high school and elementary school. The middle school received a similar grant in December.

“Over next four years, the state will pump over a half-million dollars into CNE High School to really make CNE a premier high school for how literacy can be incorporated across all of the content areas,” Glassmeyer said at the beginning of the program. “And we’re focusing on teaching kids how to read, write, speak like historians, mathematicians, scientists, musicians, artists, and to recognize that there are different ways that you speak with each one of those professions.”

Presenters included Diane Davis, an employment services consultant from Ohio Means Jobs; Chris Rich and Kim Smithers from the Clermont County Public Library; Karen Brandenburg, a human resources professional with Custom Built Crates; Lauren Helm from Motion Recruitment, and Michelle Merritt and Jason Merrfeld from Merrfeld Career Management.

Events of 2020 have changed how people work, whether temporarily or permanently, and how employers find the right workers, but establishing a personal touch and setting yourself apart from other candidates remain as important as ever.

“Why are you looking? Why are you interested in the job? I recommend any time you’re interested in a job, have a specific answer to that question,” Helm told a student during the breakout session. “They’re also going to be asking in an interview why you’re qualified … People love to hear when they’re interviewing you about real-life examples. Actual things that have happened to you or things that you know of from your real life are more meaningful and then stand out more in the interview and make you come across as more genuine.”

Bernadette Wayne, a CNE English teacher, also emphasized the importance of personalizing resumes.

“If you have a hiring manager’s name, it makes a big difference. If you put their name in the greeting, it does make it more personal and shows a little more attention to detail,” she said.

Merrett advised students to keep resumes simple, focusing on information important to that particular opportunity.

“Keep in mind you’re probably looking at a single-page resume. You’ll want to include some of the things that you’re proud of, things that you’ve accomplished,” she said. “Think about what would make you hirable, if that is classes you’ve taken in technology when you’re applying for an entry-level position in technology. There can be a variety of ways to gain experience, showing responsibility and reliability is a great thing. Make sure you stay working, stay with it and keep going. Be reliable and be a person of your word.”

Having resumes that cuts through the clutter of an online submission system is also important, Brandenburg said.  

“I think depending on the position that you’re applying for, I think the key is to have a resume and/or cover letter that is online friendly … Take the time to review that form and make it look as clean as possible,” she said.

High school math teacher Courtney Fox helped organize the program. She said it reinforced that there is a lot of support in the community for those seeking employment. The Clermont County Public Library is one such source. Smithers, the youth services specialist at the Owensville branch, and Chris Rich, the branch manager, highlighted the library’s various resources and initiatives for job seekers, including books on careers, computers with MicroSoft Office programs, resume templates, scanning, copying, wireless printing, wi-fi hotspots, a study room with light board and large screen television monitor to connect to laptops.

“Mainly that we are here and open at regular hours again and happy to help with the resources, the technology and our staff expertise to help our customers with their career advancement efforts,” Rich said of the message the library wanted to impart. Rich, who used to work in the CNE library, said several CNE families have used the library’s Wi-Fi hot spot services.

Glassmeyer described the event as a “huge success. I was very pleased with the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness that our students and families showed when engaging with the presenters. We were incredibly fortunate to have such a high level of support from our community partners. We are grateful to the professionals who gave their time to help ensure our students are college and career ready.”

The district is planning quarterly family engagement nights as part of the literacy grants. In April, Glassmeyer said, students will read “Just Mercy” by Brian Stevenson as part of the One Book, One School initiative. The district will buy copies of the book for families, and events will be planned that center around the book.

Fox hopes to host a follow-up event toward the end of the school year for graduating seniors. The district has as one of its missions that graduating seniors attend college, have a full-time job lined up, or go into military service.

“In addition, I hope that we can build on this by offering shorter sessions that focus more on helping students and families complete their job applications, write cover letters, and write resumes,” Fox said.