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On November 11, 2008, 6 News and held a live online discussion to answer questions about employment. The following is a transcription of that discussion.

Focus on the Economy: Fighting Back (11/11/2008) Powered by:CoveritLive
WATE: 6 News wants to help you get through the current economic crisis. Each day this week, 6 News is assembling a group of experts in our studio from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. They are available to answer your questions by phone and here in this live online discussion at This special effort, "Focus on the Economy: Fighting Back," will tackle a different subject each day. Today's subject is the job market.
WATE: With us today online is Windie Wilson, who is a workforce development specialist with the Tennessee Career Center.
WATE: Windie is about to go on the air for an interview with Gene Patterson, but she will be back in just a moment to answer your questions.
WATE: I'm sorry for the delay. Windie's being interviewed right now and should be done shortly.
[Catherine] 24+ years ago.. i was convicted of felony crimes. I did time but was determined to make something useful out of my life. I went to ETSU and graduated with a degree in social work. I worked for several years and then got a masters in the field. I continued to work in the field until my husband decided to open his own practice. I worked with him for 6+ years doing books and filing insurance. Once he closed the business.. I wanted to return to Social Work.. but found that because of the Barrier Crimes law... I was hard pressed to find ANY job. What do I do? I currently work part time.. which is causing us to struggle money wise. Not since that time so long ago have I ever had any problems legally.... how do I get back to my job and my family back on it's feet?
Windie Wilson: Unfortunately, this can be a problem in the job market. Many employers do have policies that prevent the hiring of people with criminal history. However, sometimes finding a link with a receptive employer can provide an opportunity. If you have had successful history with your part time job, it may be possible to translate that into something more full time.
Windie Wilson: A particular law and your specific legal history may keep you from specifically practicing as a Social Worker, but you may be able to utilize your skills in another situation. We encourage individuals to take advantage of the resources through the Tennessee Career Center system. Some of our staff have built very good relationships with employers who may consider hiring someone who has a legal history such as yours. The length of time since the conviction is in your favor, but realistically it may still be a barrier with some employers.
Windie Wilson: If you are in the Knoxville area, you can contact the Tennessee Career Center at 865 594-5500. If you are outside Knoxville, you can find listings for Career Centers in other counties at website for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (
[Catherine] I understand. I would like to add.. I am always honest with my past history. But has yet to really find the same type of work I had previously. I have worked as a Counslor and Therapist.. but finding something now.. is just not happening. It's very disheartening.
Windie Wilson: I do understand that is frustrating for you. Truthfully, the job market is tighter right now with the current economy. However, there may be a right opportunity for you. A book called No One is Unemployable offers some specific insights into presenting problem legal histories. It's a few years old, but may be available through the library or findable online.
[Lea] I have lost my job due to the economy. Recently my field was listed as one of the top one's being eliminated across the country. I've been in accounting for 20+ yrs. I live in Jefferson/Hamblen County area. I have submitted several resumes, but don't get many interviews. My last interview the owner reated (to my last pay rate) like I'd been paid too much for what I did. I have also been exploring other field areas, but get told I'm too experienced. What can I do to remarket myself in other fields, since there aren't many accounting jobs in my area?
[Catherine] thank you :)
Windie Wilson: If you're targeting a new field, you might want to take a look at your resume to see how it presents you for the fields you're pursuing. It can be helpful to target specifically toward the new field; you may want to omit some of your early history. You want everything on your resume to be accurate; however, it's not always necessary to include all of your previous work history on your resume.
Windie Wilson: Lea, if you have questions about your resume, you might also check in with Five Rivers Career Center at Talbott.
[Guest] Do you know if minimum wage is going up in Tennessee. I have heard it is.
Windie Wilson: The federal minimum wage is currently $6.55; it became that rate in July of this year. Next July, it goes to $7.25. Tennessee does not have a minimum wage specific to the state; it is subject to the federal minimum wage.
[Lea] Ok I have consulted with a lady at the career center. he can't understand why I'm not getting calls for jobs she just sent it to last week. I've also signed up with a temp office in Morristown and we can't get a reply from their client regarding a job in accounting with them.
Windie Wilson: Lea, some employers may be responding a little more slowly right now. We're seeing some of that with the uncertainties in the economy. Try to stay optimistic and keep submitting your resumes. I'm glad you're using Career Center assistance.
[Guest] Thank you for the wage information. So what that means for us is they can pay whatever they choose or do they have to pay 6.55
Windie Wilson: Employers who are subject to the minimum wage law must pay $6.55 per hour. There are some exceptions to this requirement. You can get more details about what employers are subject to this regulation from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
WATE: You can find a lot of good information about minimum wage, overtime and other rules and regulations from the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Web site:
[Lea] Thanks, and I am also waiting to be accepted for the next nursing class at TN Tech.
[Guest] Great.. Thanks for the information. I am thinking of taking on a second job due to the economy and was looking into the min. wage
Windie Wilson: Lea, good luck getting into the nursing class - lots of opportunities in that field!
WATE: This question was submitted to us via email from Ronnie:I'am trying to fine a ligitamate home base computer job to compensate my nite job, even though there are a number of them on the internet it's very costly to find one that is ligit, is there any that you know of that is ligit or do you know of a web site that weeds out the ones that are out there to take advantage of people like myself who are drowning in this economic recession
Windie Wilson: Ronnie, there are lots of people/groups looking to take advantage of folks interested in working from home. You're smart to investigate options and pursue this very carefully. There are some employers that provide options for people to work from home, but it's a good idea to scrutinize any home based "businesses." The Riley Guide provides a lot of good information for people looking for jobs; they may have some information about safest ways to check out home based work options. It's
[JJ] Thought I would let you know that there is some job openings at Freightliner Of Knoxville in the Parts Department.
Windie Wilson: JJ, thanks for the information. We'll pass that onto our staff. If these jobs haven't already been posted at the Career Center, Freightliner can do that at no charge. The number 865 594-5500. Our Department of Labor & Workforce Development partner staff will list jobs, screen candidates, and refer them to companies listing the jobs.
WATE: We have another question submitted earlier via email. This one is from Andrew:I recently graduated with a BA in Mass Communications from MTSU. Do you have any tips for getting a job in my field of study, preferably in Anderson County?
[JJ] Your welcome!
Windie Wilson: Andrew, you can find information about job openings in specific counties in Tennessee through a website called The Source. www.sourcetn.orgThrough this website you can find job availability for a variety of fields in specific counties in TN. Staff at the Career Center use this information frequently. If you want to check with the Career Center, they may also have additional detail about specific jobs in your area.
WATE: If you're just joining us, we're answering questions about employment and the job market.
WATE: With us is Windie Wilson, who is a workforce development specialist with the Tennessee Career Center.
[Stan Herring] I'm a unemployed industrial maintenance technician, with the economy going south should I start looking in other states?
Windie Wilson: Stan, our experience is that there is still some opporunity for folks in the industrial maintenance arena. I don't know how broadly you've looked for employment in this area, but it might be worth some additional effort. Manufacturing has decreased somewhat in our region during recent years, meaning that there may be better opportunities in areas with greater concentration of manufacturing jobs. However, there are some newer manufacturers here in the area who might need your skills. Check with the Career Center to see listings of available jobs in the area.
[Stan Herring] If anyone needs a industrial maintenance tech. e-mail me at
[Stan Herring]I've been on every job site on line and no deals yet.
Windie Wilson: Stan, I don't know if you've checked This website will take you to listings of jobs that have been posted through the Career Center system. You might check it out if you haven't already taken a look.
[Stan Herring] Thank you for your time
WATE: Windie, here's another question that came to us via email:I'm frustrated in my current job, but I know this is a bad time to find a new one. Do you have any tips?
Windie Wilson: It is a somewhat difficult time to look for jobs, but that doesn't mean there isn't something available. If your current job is frustrating you, you might begin the process of looking for another job. We do encourage people to continue to be a professional and reliable employee in their current job. I don't know if there are opportunities for you to change some things within your existing job to make it less frustrating for you. Sometimes people can reduce their frustration by making some adjustments - taking on a new or different project, etc. If that's not the case for you, then focusing some energy on a job search might relieve some of your frustration even if it doesn't immediately produce a new job. Networking is a really important tool in looking for a new job. Even though job options seem to be fewer right now, you might discover a good opportunity through networking. You can also find a host of resources to help you in a job search at a Tennessee Career Center; there is no charge for any of the services there.
WATE: We're getting near the end of our time online, but we have time for one or two more questions. Here's one that was submitted via email:My husband and I had a painting business for 10 years this year we've lost it. We've put in many applications with no luck. Some feel it's been because we were self employed how do we get past that when they don't even call for an interview or even to ask questions?
Windie Wilson: You may want to take a look at your resume and how you're presenting your previous experience. In a tighter job market, having a resume that presents you well is really important. We offer resume workshops through the Career Center that you might find helpful. There are also some good online resources that will provide you with resume tips.,, and are great resources.
[susan] I am a 62 year old women will be 63 next month . How do i go about getting a job at my age
Windie Wilson: Susan, while some employers are hesitant about hiring older workers, we also find there are employers who value the experience that comes with a bit of age. Targeting your resume toward the kind of job your seeking will be important and how you present yourself on your resume will also be important to help you get initially considered for an interview. You can get advice on this through the Career Center or at some of the online resources we cited earlier. Having current technical skills is also helpful; employers particularly value computer skills - which you must have! I recommend checking our a job search workshop at the Career Center as a good starting point.
WATE: We only have time for one more question tonight.
[Michelle] I have been a stay at home parent for 7 years and am currently looking for work and feel like my only options are fast food at this point. I send out resumes and am not having much luck - should I be putting some mention of my employment lapse and the reason why on the resume or should I make it a point to mention this on my cover letters?
Windie Wilson: Michelle, it is a good idea to explain your employment lapse in your cover letter. That will help employers know that you have legitimate reasons for having been out of the labor market. You might also want to take a look at your resume just to make sure it's capturing your experience and skills in the most positive way. As I mentioned to some other folks, the Career Center staff are great resources as are some of the online resources we've cited for producing a great resume. Also, be persistent. Some employers are responding a little more slowly right now.
Windie Wilson: Susan, one other item - the AARP website has some really good information for older workers. Also, the local Office on Aging does quite a bit of work with older workers. Those might be additional resources for you.
WATE: Thank you to everyone who asked a question tonight. And a special thank you goes to Windie Wilson and all of the career specialists at the Tennessee Career Center.
WATE: We'll be back here again tomorrow from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. to answer more questions. Our topic will be your healthcare costs.
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