10 Top Tips for Today’s Chippewa Valley Job Hunters

the post-pandemic job market is complicated, but having the right attitude and resources can help you succeed

Barbara Arnold

The current labor shortage is a conundrum.

“Help wanted: Chippewa Valley employers say they are desperate for workers right now,” screams a headline. Meanwhile, a recent Today Show segment focused on new college grads who have applied to more than 100 jobs without a single offer.

In Wisconsin, some believe the extra $300 a week pandemic emergency funds plus standard unemployment benefits act as a disincentive for people to look for work; others contend that the extra funds are needed to meet basic needs such as rent, food, and gas.

As for employees who have been working from home, some are suddenly being asked to return to the office as life opens up, and their response is to quit and work for someone else from home. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that post-pandemic, more employees will work remotely than before COVID-19. Yet some managers continue to prefer the culture of office face time; they aren’t sure remote workers have hustle.

In a recent interview on CNN Business, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry shared four challenges to hiring workers in retail right now: 1) Lack of child care; 2) Health concerns; 3) The face-to-face nature of retail work itself; and 4) More competition for new hires as companies raise their minimum wages to attract workers. Choosing a job these days isn’t just about money anymore, Barry said: “It’s about a wholesome set of benefits that we can put in place, and flexibility that we can put in place, so that we’re able to retain a diverse workforce.”

What’s a job seeker to do nowadays? We reached out to these Chippewa Valley experts to compile a list of top 10 tips for job hunters in 2021.


After 2020, who could blame anyone for being negative? Yet, a mindset of being confident and genuinely positive is critical. Eating right, staying hydrated, getting the amount of exercise and shut-eye your body requires is key, along with being with people who bring you joy or finding things to do that make you happy. Laughing’s good.


“Know what you want. It will help not to be labeled as a job hopper. While being on unemployment right now may seem OK, it doesn’t look great in the big picture.” –Stephanie May, skilled manufacturing recruiter, SEEK Careers/Staffing

“Think about what you want in a career: pay, location, hours, purpose. Start looking for employment opportunities or connecting with employers who meet that criteria. Being organized and prepared can make the job searching much less stressful! Having a tailored resume, cover letter, and references ready to submit is extremely important, along with keeping detailed notes of each position and company you are applying to.” – Carlee Norby, career services specialist, Chippewa Valley Technical College

“Stay organized in your search, including keeping track of positions you applied to (and which documents you sent them), people you networked with (including contact info and conversation notes), positions you interviewed for, and sourcing new opportunities.”  –Bryan Barts, director of Career Services at UW-Stout


One of your first stops might be the Job Center of Wisconsin, your public library, or your school’s Career Services Center which have access to hundreds of resources plus specially trained career counselors. Also, be sure to check out recruiting agencies, and partner with a recruiter to help you find your dream career.

Many resources are online. The Job Center of Wisconsin, for example, offers virtual workshops (dwd.wisconsin.gov/det/workshops/virtual.htm), while the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire offers free financial education through LinkedIn Learning.

“Oftentimes, people spend upwards of 40 hours a week looking for their next career and interviewing with several different companies before they find the right fit. With an agency like SEEK Careers/Staffing you have the chance to interview with one qualified Talent Specialist who will serve as your advocate to help you find the right job and fit for you.”  – Travis Johnson, district team leader, SEEK Careers/Staffing 


“Set up voice mail, and clear out your messages. If you are actively job searching, and serious about obtaining new or better employment, make sure to have all lines of communication open. Active, functioning email address, phone number, voice mail, texting capabilities, etc.” –Emily Williams, customer service representative, SEEK Careers/Staffing 

“Make sure your online persona is accurate, up-to-date, and that you are active using the resource.” –Bryan Barts, director of career services at UW-Stout

“Beware social media platforms as they can send red flags depending on your posts or what you are tagged in.”  –Carlee Norby, career services specialist, CVTC

“Recent graduates are searching for jobs using LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed, and Handshake, a career management system used by universities and technical colleges. … Job seekers should be prepared for virtual interviews using Zoom and in-person requiring masks and physical distancing, as well as a combination of a screening interview via Zoom and an in-person final interview.” –Staci Heidtke, associate director of Career Services, UW-Eau Claire


“Target your resume and cover letter to specific companies. Make changes to these application materials based on the organization and the position you are applying for.” –Staci Heidtke, associate director of Career Services, UW-Eau Claire

According to a recent article on Money.com, companies now use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to pore through resumes. The ATS scans for keywords applicable to the job. About 75% of candidates are taken out of consideration before a human even sees a resume. Make your resume and application match the job’s criteria, and be able to back it up with skills and experience.


“Even if you don’t meet every single qualification that is listed, still apply. There may be opportunities to learn on the job or have a certification the company is willing to pay for. Your experience in other jobs and even other industries could be just what they need.” –Brooke Richartz, president, Chippewa Valley Society for Human Resource Management

“It’s no secret that there are far more open positions than there are applicants. This is great for someone who is job searching. You have the chance to pick and choose: Find a job closer to home, a nicer shift or schedule, higher pay, better benefits, a flexible schedule, in a different industry, easier on your body physically or just all around better for you and your family.” – Stephanie May, skilled manufacturing recruiter, SEEK Careers/Staffing


“Eighty percent of getting a job is who you know. Building positive connections will open new opportunities to take advantage of.” –Carlee Norby, career services specialist, CVTC

“Over 70% of today’s jobs are in the ‘hidden job market’ and are not advertised as posted positions.” –Staci Heidtke, associate director of Career Services, UW-Eau Claire


“Everything is online for the application process, and you haven’t talked to a single human yet? Give a phone call to check it. That could be what puts you back at the top of the list of candidates for a second look.”  –Brooke Richartz, president, CVSHRM

“Do follow-up by calling the employer to find out the status of your application … typically one week after applying. State who you are, what position you applied for, and ask for your status. Employers may still be collecting applications, pull yours to the top of the pile, or they may say come in for an interview or not.”  –Carlee Norby, career services specialist, CVTC


With the many forms interviews can take – phone, Zoom, Facebook, online, and face-to-face – practice to make a good impression.

“If you get an opportunity to interview with a company that you are only a little bit excited about or not all, interview anyway for the experience. Each opportunity to go over interview questions or in a different scenario (1:1, panel, virtual or in person) will give you more confidence for the next time you encounter it.” –Brooke Richartz, president, CVSHRM


Never give up. Never quit. Persist!

Where the Jobs Are is sponsored by:

Chippewa Valley
Technical College

620 W. Clairemont Ave
Eau Claire, WI

Where the Jobs Are is sponsored by:

Chippewa Valley
Technical College

620 W. Clairemont Ave
Eau Claire, WI