By Ron Leir
NORTH ARLINGTON –
Dennie Fitzgerald has held a variety of jobs since graduating from Kearny High School in 1985 but he’s never felt the need to put them down on paper.
Until last week, that is. Fitzgerald happened to be at the North Arlington Public Library with his 9-yearold daughter, Mackenzie, a fifth-grader at the borough’s Jefferson School, helping her find reading material when he learned that the library was offering help on creating and/ or updating resumes.
“I’ve never done a resume before,” Fitzgerald said.
A borough resident for the past two decades, the 46-yearold puts in long hours as the superintendent for the sprawling Riverview Gardens apartment complex.
“These days, though, the way the economy is, not many jobs are secure today,” Fitzgerald said. “I know one woman who worked 30 years for Hoffman- LaRoche who got called down to the office one day and was told, ‘Your project’s done, that’s it.’ No severance, no nothing. And that’s a 30-year employee.”
So Fitzgerald hunkered down with Maisy Card, a library part-timer who works evenings and weekends when she’s not at her regular gig, teaching English Language Arts/Creative Writing/Basic Skills at Jersey City’s Kenmare School, an alternative high school for adult women run by the York St. Project.
With encouragement from Library Director Kristin Nelson, the resume program began July 9 and the service is being offered, at no cost to residents of North Arlington and surrounding communities, every Tuesday, from 6 to 8 p.m., through Labor Day.
As a sort of companion piece, the library will renew beginner computer classes once school resumes in September.
The library started offering help with resumes after Nelson began hearing informally from folks who were looking to get back into the job market but lacked the skill set needed to format or revise an employment resume.
“So far, it’s been pretty quiet,” Card said. “We’ve had two people, both from North Arlington, but now that we’ve placed an advertisement about the program, we’re hoping to get more.”
One is a man laid off from a manufacturing job looking for work and the other is a woman who has done part-time work in the Orange and North Arlington schools as a substitute teacher and para-professional for special needs but is now seeking full-time employment, Card said.
“She heard about our service and she came because she lacks the computer skills needed to update her resume,” Card explained.
Since the national recession set in in 2008, the job market hasn’t been kind to area residents, statistics show. The most recent unemployment figures for May researched by Card listed a 7.5% jobless rate for Bergen County and 10.1% for Kearny, for example.
Card does what she can to provide patrons with a resource to add to their toolkit.
“Our computers are set up with Microsoft Word which has a resume template so that helps,” she said. “We can print out a hard copy of the resume but the patron can also access the file by e-mail and download a copy that way.”
Meanwhile, after spending some time together at the computer desk, Fitzgerald credited Card with giving good guidance on how to structure his resume.
“I’ve learned to use action words, like ‘assisted’ and ‘conducted’ and ‘coordinated’ in describing the type of work I’ve done, since that’s what an employer will be looking for,” he said. “So, for example, I can say that I coordinated work orders for so many apartments and I’ve scheduled contractors for the different jobs.”
That’s an important lesson to learn, Card noted, because “some people tend to undersell themselves by not being descriptive enough about the work they’ve done.”
Fitzgerald said he found it “very hard to put into words my credentials but Maisy’s showing me how to word it.” As examples, he can list as “special skills,” the awards he’s won for coaching the borough’s girls’ recreation sports teams.
Now armed with his first-ever resume, Fitzgerald is feeling a bit better about his standing as a potential force in the job market.