Contact 6: Top executives provide tips for job-seekers

MILWAUKEE -- The U.S. Department of Labor says some 55,000 people in the Milwaukee area are unemployed. If you or someone you know is looking for work, getting hired can seem impossible! FOX6's Contact 6 recently sat down with three executives, who offer some secrets to getting in the door, and staying there.

Some of those looking for work at a recent job fair in Shorewood say they've been out of work for years, in some cases, without an explanation. "Nobody calls you back, or 'we'll get back to you,' and no response," one job-seeker said.

With so many people looking for jobs, it's important to be more than just an application or a voice on the phone. It's vital to figure out how to get to the front of the line, and get an edge up on the competition.

Contact 6's Katrina Cravy sat down with three top executives from three major companies: Allen Edmonds, Town Bank, and Boelter Lincoln. All have one thing in common: a drive to succeed with no fear.

32-year-old Sarah Grooms, vice president at Town Bank, says she started by working for free as an intern, just to get her foot in the door. "Any time an opportunity was presented to me, seizing it and figuring it out along the way," Grooms said. Grooms says her tip for success for job seekers: don't just answer questions - ask them! "If they're thinking ahead enough to ask those questions, 'what is my day going to be like?' 'Who might I be working with?' Showing a real interest, and showing that you really want to work here makes somebody an attractive candidate," Grooms said.

Grooms said a red flag for her is a candidate that doesn't know much about the company for which they're interviewing. "If they know nothing about our company, if they know nothing about our growth, nothing about the size of businesses that we help, nothing about the job specifically that they're going to be doing," Grooms said.

Aaron Lauber started out making just $4.25 an hour. Now, he makes a little more than that, controlling finances at Allen Edmonds! He's come a long way from his days as a collegiate soccer player at UW-Madison. He didn't make the team his first two tryouts, but he didn't quit. "I definitely wasn't the most skilled player on the team by a long shot, but again, I worked as hard or harder than anyone on that practice team, and that's what gave me the opportunity to get some playing time and make the team," Lauber said.

Lauber says his advice to job-seekers involves working hard and not giving up. "I think it's important to always challenge yourself, and constantly be working to get better at what you do," Lauber said.

Jill Brzeski steers the reins at Boelter Lincoln, one of Milwaukee's top marketing and communications companies. She also started small, and worked for cheap, but always met new people, asked questions and perhaps most importantly - made connections! Brzeski says networking is important. "Contact a number of different industries that you're interested in, and see if they're willing to talk with you and spend a day there just to see what the industry is like, and what the company and business is like," Brzeski said.

Brzeski says spending some time at a company and within an industry can help solidify whether it would be a good fit for you, and vice versa. "It's so important for us to see that personality come through, so we can imagine you working here, and see how you're going to fit in," Brzeski said.

It can be scary to put yourself out there, and make those important calls and try to create professional connections, but it can be even more frightening being unemployed, and wondering when your phone is going to ring!