Employment agencies in Calgary are limited in their ability to help

Employment agencies are being flooded with applications from people desperate to find work — but even they say there's a limit to how much they can help in this particular downturn.

'It will come down to friends and family and who you know'

Violet Spirk says at times it's frustrating not being able to find a job, but still she gets up every day to begin a new search. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Violet Spirk wakes up every morning to start a new job search.

She checks the Government of Canada's job bank, the nine staffing agencies she's with, then several online job sites.

The 53-year-old began this ritual last March, after she lost her job as a file clerk with an oilwell service company.

"I don't know what else to do, just keep applying, keep your fingers crossed that maybe one day something will come up?" she said.

The most recent statistics show more than 61,000 people in Alberta were on employment insurance benefits last November, double the number the previous year. 

In the 11 months since she's been out of work, Spirk says she's had three weeks of temporary work and three interviews for permanent jobs that didn't pan out.

Spirk says she's even applied for a cashier's job at Home Depot, without any luck. 

"I mean I knew it was bad, but that bad? Wow."

Flooded with resumes

Andrew Ward, with Diversified Staffing Services, says he hears similar stories every day.

Diversified Staffing's Andrew Ward says people need to mine their networks to find work in this competitive environment. (Colleen Underwood/CBC )

In this downturn he says everyone from support staff to CFO's have been let go.

And the volume of candidates that come through his employment agency's doors is up dramatically, especially within the last two months. 

"We have a lot of highly qualified personnel looking for positions probably one of the largest influx of candidates we've seen in recent memory," said Ward.

He says companies are receiving up to 1,000 resumes directly, allowing employers to be picky. 

"If they do have a job position, if they have a specific skill set requirement for that position, in the past they might have rounded a few corners, maybe settled for a candidate that didn't quite have the skill sets that they were looking for. Now they have lots of options available."

Networking helps

Ward says they can only help people find work if they get a request from a company, but those orders are down.

"A lot of companies are hesitant to extend a job offer to a candidate even on a temporary basis at this time as they are trying to keep their budgets under control," he said.

So with more applicants and fewer jobs — Ward says networking has become even more important in this downturn.

"It will come down to friends and family and who you know, this is where your network will really win out."

Other advice —  make sure your resume is completely factual, up to date and relevant to the positions for which you are applying.

Ward also says to let people know you are available to work, and what you are willing to do.


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