Whether you're unemployed or just interested in advancing your career, Maryland residents can take advantage of a new service provided by Maryland Job Service, which is part of the state's Office of Employment Services.
And you can do it in the comfort of your favorite shopping mall.
It's called the Chesapeake Job Bank System -- an array of self-service, computerized kiosks at shopping malls throughout the Baltimore area. They're easy-to-use tools that let potential job applicants search a nationwide listing of job openings while they shop.
"People can go up to it and do a job search to see what's available," said Paulette Hall, executive director of the Office of Employment Services. "If applicants find something they're interested in, then they can go to an employment office and set up an interview."
It's all part of the state's effort to match potential employers and employees -- a service that every week brings together more than 1,200 job seekers with businesses.
The kiosks are a small -- but highly visible -- part of the Maryland job-search system, which is linked with states in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond.
The booths, which have been in place for two months, include a video screen, a keypad, and paper and pencils for jotting down job descriptions. A system due this spring will feature a touch screen, interactive video and a printer.
Units are at East Point, Columbia and White Marsh malls, and the Leedmark store in Glen Burnie. Officials say they hope to expand into schools and libraries.
With more than 150,000 positions listed in the computerized job bank system, there's a good chance that an applicant will find the right job. Since July, the Maryland Job Service has placed 24,000 people in jobs -- and averages more than 40,000 placements a year. How does the Job Service work? It's simple: Employers place job orders with the state agency, which then matches the orders with applicants looking for jobs. The service is free to employers and applicants.
"Anyone can walk in off the street," Ms. Hall said. "After applicants register -- we get their work history and the type of job they're looking for -- they see an interviewer." Most Job Service facilities are near unemployment insurance offices.
If the applicant is unemployed, the Job Service interviewer explains additional services available to help make the job search successful: Skills are taught on how to update resumes, look for a job, prepare for job interviews and network with other applicants.
"We try to find out what the applicant needs beyond the basic information in the job listings," Ms. Hall said. "Then we try to match them with a job."
And if there's no job that matches the applicant's abilities?
"Then we do job development," she said. "We call employers and see if they have an opening that matches the person's abilities."
In addition to bringing together employers and potential employees, the Job Service coaches applicants on how to find jobs through personal contacts.
But whether the applicant is an entry-level worker or a laid-off executive, Ms. Hall pointed out that successful job searchers share one trait: persistence.
Employers interested in listing job openings, and people wishing to apply to the Maryland Job Service may call (410) 333-5353 in Baltimore. The downtown office is at 1100 N. Eutaw St.
Maryland Job Service offices throughout the state are listed in the blue (government) pages of the phone directory under the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development's Office of Employment Services.