The local Southeast Tennessee Career Center, one of six such centers affiliated with the Southeast Tennessee Development District, offers a range of services to help people get employed.
Lead Career Services Coordinator Lovely Abraham describes it as a place that helps people who have found themselves unemployed for whatever reason help themselves.
“It’s a good, fresh start for them,” Abraham said.
Located inside the Village Office Building off Keith Street, the center consists of a large room filled with computers surrounded by offices filled with people who are there to help.
Resources like computers, printers, books filled with printouts of current job listings and other things are available at any time during regular office hours for “self-directed” job searching.
The local office also plays host to resume writing and job interview skills workshops on a regular basis.
The resume workshop, which meets weekly on Thursdays at 9 a.m., covers ways to help people articulate their skill sets in the best way possible.
Amber Hoskins, a career services coordinator at the center, said one important thing the workshop covers is the ability to tailor a resume to a specific job opening rather than just using the same document to apply for multiple jobs.
“You might have something on your resume … that has nothing to do with what you’re looking for,” Hoskins said.
The interview skills workshop, which meets every other Tuesday at 9 a.m., offers job seekers advice on interviewing for a variety of positions and gives them a chance to practice and think about what their answers would be.
While every job interview is different, Hoskins said the workshop covers some of the “basic questions” that are commonly asked.
Instructors also focus on teaching what a person needs to do to make a good first impression with matters like dress and both verbal communication skills and nonverbal ones like shaking a person’s hand.
Including those who visit the center just to attend the workshops, Abraham said the Cleveland location receives about 500 visitors a month.
Clients of the center vary in age and experience level, from younger people who are looking to gain their first experiences to older people looking for new opportunities.
The goal of the center is give people the resources they need to overcome any challenges they might be having while searching for work, Abraham said.
For young people, lack of experience can be a challenge because most employers want potential employees to already have experience.
Hoskins said older people may lack the skills needed to find jobs in certain fields because of factors like lacking computer experience.
Both matters are ones the center tries to help with, and the focus is on finding employment.
While it is not the office that grants the benefits, the center’s staff also helps people navigate the process of applying for unemployment benefits.
However, Hoskins said filing for unemployment benefits is a temporary option and can be “a frustrating and long process,” which means looking for work is the best option.
Drawing from lists of openings provided by local employers and Tennessee job website Jobs4TN.gov, the center’s clients have the ability to find several positions to which they can apply.
Abraham said the center occasionally holds job fairs at the office. Local employers and agencies will gather in the same place to speak with those in need of jobs. The center also generally has a larger job fair each fall.
While the center’s offering of a place to use a computer to apply for jobs may sound simple, Hoskins said there are still some in Bradley County who do not have Internet access at home.
The workshops and staff make it a place where all job seekers can go to find help and hopefully find work.
“It is a good starting point for them,” Abraham said.
The center is located at 301 Keith St. inside the Village Office Building, which is adjoined by FSG Bank. Its hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All services are free.
For more information, visit www.secareercenter.org or call 423-790-5552.