At Work

AT WORK

Workers Around the Region

April 20, 2005

Raymond Holmes

Career counselor for the city of Baltimore

Age: 34

Years in business: Three.

Salary: The city pays $25,800 to $38,000 for the position of career development facilitator.

Background: After graduating from the University of Baltimore with a degree in business administration, he worked as a program coordinator at the YMCA. He then moved to the city post.

Humor is the key: Holmes' light-hearted approach to the job includes wearing a lab coat, calling himself "doctor" and prescribing remedies for his "patients." His bit helps break the ice with nervous job seekers. "A lot of people may be embarrassed to tell you they have no work experience, or were terminated or laid off. So sometimes you have to get in their comfort zone to get them to tell you that information," he said.

Typical day: Starts at 8:30 a.m. interviewing clients, both walk-ins and those with appointments. The Northwest Career Center where he works is one of four in the city offering free career advice. Holmes says he sees 15 people a day on average. He interviews clients, determines their needs and maps out a plan for employment. "That's where the doctor comes in and writes the prescription," he said. Time is also spent following up on his caseload, which typically runs about 40 people. The day ends at 4:30 p.m., except Tuesdays, when the center is open until 7 p.m. Holmes often takes work home with him to catch up and plan for the next day.

The good: Helping people resolve their problems. "I don't believe my job is to get you a job. My job is to give you the tools you need to get a job."

The bad: Not being able to do it all. "I can't save the world. I would like to be able to help every client that comes in with all their needs."

Extracurriculars: He recently completed accreditation as a career development specialist. He is working on his master's degree in management at the University of Phoenix.

His philosophy on the job: There is always room for improvement and to make things better. "I don't believe in the, `If it's not broken, don't fix it,' " he said. "I always believe something can be improved."- Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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