LSU AgCenter family economist offers job-hunting tips

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Tucker, Jeanette A.

News Release Distributed 03/24/09

People facing unemployment should not relax because finding a job can often take a lot of work.

“Make finding a job your full-time job,” said Dr. Jeanette Tucker, an LSU AgCenter family economist, in one of several free career and financial classes provided through a mobile classroom that stopped in Farmerville March 16-17 to assist poultry growers and displaced workers from Pilgrim's Pride.

“This is not the time to go fishing,” Tucker said.

Neither is this the right time to stay in an expensive hotel or buy a new suit. “Resist the urge to overspend during your job search,” Tucker said.

She suggested reassessing career options. “Ask if you want to re-tool yourself. When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” Tucker said.

Tucker stressed the importance of networking. “Don’t burn any bridges,” she said, adding that a current or former supervisor could be a new supervisor in a different venue.

Brenda Allen, a class participant who works at Pilgrim’s Pride, said the interviewing skills she learned at a Monday seminar were most beneficial. “I went home and re-did my resume,” she said.

Touching on financial topics, Tucker said a budget is a spending plan, “not a negative.” She said the average person spends money seven times a day and suggested using a spending-tracking sheet for a week to study disbursements.

Tucker said small savings – cutting back on soft drinks and snacks, for example – can add up.

She showed the class how to determine monthly amounts needed for periodic expenses and how to use a card that showed how much various savings amounts can accumulate in a year.

Tucker said families should develop a list of saving options and discuss finding less-costly substitutions – such as making a pizza together versus buying one –and trading or sharing resources. She cited an old adage, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Tucker told the class to stay away from withdrawing from their 401(k). “You will pay penalties and taxes and lose that money growth over time,” she said. “Understand tax implications. Use direct rollovers to avoid potential taxes.”

Spend and invest lump sums wisely, Tucker said, adding that making minimum payments is better than paying off entire debt in case that money is needed later.

She recommends checking a financial planner’s references and licensure. For example, all stock brokers must register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and are listed in the Central Registration Depository.

“Be aware of investments that promise too much,” Tucker said.

She advised checking your credit report and score yearly, “particularly if your name includes a Jr. or Sr. or if you have a common name such as John Smith.” The Web site is

“Bankruptcy is your last resort. It will be on your credit report for 10 years,” Tucker said.

The LSU AgCenter family economist suggested checking into such benefits as unemployment, Social Security and other government assistant programs.

Tucker’s class was one of a number that were offered during the two days the mobile classroom was in Farmerville. Other classes included such topics as U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance for growers, bankruptcy laws, new-career evaluation, stress management and family resources.

The mobile classes were provided by a partnership that includes the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Secretary of State, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, Louisiana Municipal Association, Capital One, Louisiana Business and Technology Center, LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business and Louisiana Small Business Development Center.

The mobile classroom will return to Farmerville on May 5-6 to offer similar classes.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

3/25/2009 12:17:20 AM
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