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Jobs in Becker County

To listen to the national news, you'd swear the sky was falling.

The volatile stock market, the shaky housing market and the high national unemployment rate leave little room for consumer confidence.

And although Becker County and the surrounding areas do not sit in a pretty bubble safe from economic turmoil, experts say we are also not a direct reflection of what's making the national headlines.

As of June, the nation's unemployment rate stood at 9.2 percent.

Compare that to Minnesota's 7.4 percent and Becker County's 7 percent.

Kyle Kieselhorst, a counselor and resource room consultant with the Minnesota WorkForce Center in Detroit Lakes, says that while that number is still up from the first half of 2008, (when it was 5.5 percent) there are also more people working.

"We've had people move into the area, and there are just more people looking for jobs," said Kieselhorst, adding that the number of people employed in Becker County has shot up from 15,000 in 2008 to roughly 18,000 now.

Kieselhorst says while there were some pretty tough manufacturing layoffs in the fall of 2008, the sector has slowly been building back up.

"It's not where it used to be, but it's getting closer," Kieselhorst said.

Tourism in Becker County continues to remain steady in terms of employment, and Kieselhorst credits part of that to the economic boom in the Fargo-Moorhead area and most recently, western North Dakota.

"We benefit from being near them," said Kieselhorst, "It's probably one of the best metro areas as far as unemployment goes -- North Dakota in general has really weathered the recession better than most areas, and those are people who then come to the Detroit Lakes area on the weekends and spend money."

Kieselhorst says the FM area also helps Becker County's unemployment rate because it's close enough to commute to, which he says a good number of people do.

Kieselhorst says right now there are a couple of hot jobs for this area.

"I can find any welder, skilled or entry level, a job right now -- there are so many metal shops around here looking for welders, and the neat part about that is, a lot of the shops are doing work for manufacturing businesses that are also right here in the area."

The medical field is also going strong in Detroit Lakes, as an aging population demands good, local healthcare.

"We don't have problems placing LPN's and RN's," said Kieselhorst, "And if you want to become an CNA (certified nursing assistant), you can take a three week course and as long as you do that and pass a state test, you'll get hired."

Kieselhorst goes on to say that some tough areas of the local job market include construction, which is still suffering from a slow housing market, and elementary school teaching.

"For every one elementary ed school teacher position here, there can be anywhere from 400 to 600 applicants," said Kieselhorst, "Minnesota has so many colleges with that program, so we're cranking out the new teachers, at the same time seeing budget cuts in the schools and layoffs."

Kieselhorst advises looking at a career field's 'job outlook' before going to school for it, and when applying for employment, stay flexible.

"That's probably the biggest mistake that people make," said Kieselhorst, "People will say 'I want to work in this town for these hours, on this shift,' and they won't get hired because most employers need flexibility.

He says another common mistake is not being eager to jump into different aspects of the job an employer might need done.

"They'll say, 'That's not in my job description', but the thing is, they forget about that part of the job description that often says 'or other duties as assigned.'"

Kieselhorst says resume mistakes also cost job seekers opportunities.

"They might take a cover letter from the last job they applied to and just change things a little," said Kieselhorst, "but if they accidentally miss a reference to the last company in there somewhere, it's the kiss of death."

Kieselhorst says having computer skills these days is also a must, no matter what job you are applying for.

He also advises to network, network, network.

"Only about a third of the job openings are even posted between online job sites and the newspaper," said Kieselhorst, adding that job seekers should also contact a prospective employer even if they do not see a job opening with them.

"Just talking to people is so important," said Kieselhorst, "You can't wait for a good job to come to you -- you have to find it."

The Minnesota WorkForce Center in Detroit Lakes offers free classes and services in its Resource Room for resume making, job seeking, interviewing and budgeting skills.

Kieselhorst says about 200 people take advantage of the Resource Room every week.

For more information on their services, call 218-846-7377.