Career services provider sees business boom amid high unemployment

Career services provider sees business boom amid high unemployment

Charise Wilson, owner of Workforce Ready Solutions, said she’s seen a surge in business amid high unemployment rates due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

WOONSOCKET – This time last year, Charise Wilson, owner of Workforce Ready Solutions, was launching her business from her home in Woonsocket.

One year later, business is up, driven by a nearly 14 percent unemployment rate and widespread uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic. After an initial drop in March, Wilson said she’s seen a flood of clients looking to streamline their resumes and brush up on interview skills.

“While it’s good for me, my business, it’s hard to see people that are experiencing so much uncertainty,” she said.

Wilson, who spent nearly two decades working in career services in higher education before striking out on her own, said she’s seen interest from all sectors of the market as job seekers try to plan their next move. For some, it’s the next step after a layoff, while for others, it’s an opportunity to get ahead amid the uncertainty they might not have a job in the fall.

“A lot of the more creative industries are a little more affected,” she said.

Wilson said she’s worried about unskilled workers and thinks skilled laborers will bounce back quicker from the pandemic.

One area she hasn’t seen high demand is recruiting. While some companies, including in the technology and healthcare sectors, have seen a surge in demand, Wilson said many smaller companies are taking a cautious approach. Seasonal companies that might have brought on 10 to 15 employees in another year, she said, are hiring fewer people, and some are waiting to see what their needs are as the economy reopens.

Amid the uncertainty, Wilson is encouraging clients to tap into the hidden job market by networking, attending local meet-ups and strengthening their professional development. This current job cycle, she said, is going to be different, with new graduates and the newly unemployed likely to spend longer than the typical 8 to 12 weeks looking for a job.

Wilson said she’s also worried about people creating gaps in their resumes, especially in places like Woonsocket where many workers are earning minimum wage. With unemployed workers now receiving an extra $600 per week in benefits, she said, some people are reluctant to return to a job where they would be making less. But the short-term benefits could also hurt workers in the long run as potential employers see lengthy gaps since their last employment.

“That’s a warning, if you ask me, to Woonsocket or northern Rhode Island residents,” she said. “Don’t delay, continue to pursue a job search even under these circumstances.”