The latest statistics for unemployment were recently released by the United States Department of Labor, which stated there are still 12.2 million people unemployed in America today. With so many people out of work, it can be difficult to navigate through a declining job market while in competition with fellow out-of-workers. Just like other cities across the nation, Chicago has been hit hard due to the declining job market.

Gone are the days of being able to walk into companies, resume in hand, in search of finding a job. Nowadays, people are looking to online job search sites like Career Builder or Monster in order to send out a large number of resumes in hopes of obtaining a position. Vice President of Banner Personnel Service Gail Robson believes there can be some problems with this method. She says that too many times, people use these job sites to send out mass resumes without following through with their applications. People can get frustrated with not hearing back from potential employers after sending out electronic resumes, and feel that their job hunt isn’t going anywhere.

Standing out from the pack

(credit: Sara Lugardo/

Gail Robson of Banner Personnel Service (credit: Sara Lugardo)

Robson has been working for Banner Personnel Service for 27 years as part of the staffing and recruiting process. She has been the vice president for the past 14 years and largely deals with recruiting for some of the top companies in the Chicagoland area. Unlike job search sites, Banner Personnel Service is a privately-held staffing firm that deals with full-time placement, temporary, temp-to-hire and direct hire for employers in Chicago.

With new graduates unable to find work, many are choosing to further their education through a graduate program. However, Robson states that this can be a common misconception when it comes to looking for employment. Simply furthering your education does not guarantee an open position after graduation. Conversely, many Americans are facing exorbitant student loan debt which can quickly accumulate from an additional graduate program after receiving a four-year degree.

“Employers are putting emphasis on the same core skills that were relevant 27 years ago,” says Robson. “Good follow-through and work ethic is something that can only be known to employers through work history and references. The main skill sets that are important to employers have to deal with punctuality, not calling off and being productive at work.”

Setting career goals far in advance is often the best indicator of the types of education that job seekers should consider. “It’s important to have a clear set goal of what you want to be doing for the next 10 to 15 years before simply going back to school in hopes of bettering your chances in finding a job,” says Robson. “Not all positions require furthered education.”

Choosing the right education

Robson emphasizes the importance of finding the right school to fit the needs as an individual looking for work. A growing problem in the United States is that not only are there 12.2 million people out of work, but 4.8 million of them are categorized as long-term unemployed. While Robson did admit that if a company were to choose between two identical candidates for a position, the individual with furthered education would most likely get the job, her experience has shown her that work experience is a crucial aspect in recruiting in Chicago.

For those individuals who are long-term unemployed, Robson recommends looking into a school with a high job placement ratio, as well as internships during enrollment. Companies are looking for individuals who have work experience on top of educational requirements. This helps to add educational background to a resume, provides work experience and helps with finding a full-time position after graduation.

When asked what advice to give those looking to reboot their career, Robson recommends discussing people’s passions. “It’s important to have goals in place when it comes to what you’re intended position will be and decide whether or not that is something you will need to go back to school for,” says Robson. “Understand that furthering your education doesn’t necessarily guarantee yourself a job.”

Sara Lugardo is a Korean American who thrives in writing about Asian community news in Chicago. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on

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