When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in late 2017, Ana Hernandez rushed to have her half-sister and stepmother move to Howell where Ana has lived for nearly 30 years. Soon afterwards both she and her husband were laid off when their employer’s company was sold. With a newborn son and her husband’s then eight-year-old nephew living with them – AND their two guests, Ana was frightened about her overloaded household with no money to support them.
Nervous at the prospect of applying for a new job after fourteen years at the warehouse and after a month of no leads, Ana found her way to Express Employment Professionals. “I reached out to Express and spoke with Kim Vargas who immediately said she had the perfect job for me.’ I thought that going to an agency would be terrible since they would take a cut of my salary, but that’s not the way they do it. And they got me a job within a week!”
According to Kim, “it was Ana’s willingness to do anything and her positive outlook that helped her land the job and to flourish there.”
Her first position at a medical compliance company was as data entry in August 2018. Within three months, Ana was moved, with a raise, to become a medical team associate in a different division. She loves it. “I see myself working here for a very long time. Eventually, I’d like to become a supervisor, like in my last job, but want to earn it by gaining the knowledge I’ll need from the ground up.”
At Express, it really is all about who you know.
Several times each week, the office’s founder, Anna Santucci, meets with area companies to strike up new relationships with them. All the while, Kim Vargas, hired in 2015 when Express first opened in Howell, visits area churches and unemployment offices, is constantly on the phone helping people seeking jobs and working to develop other contacts. She also partners with NJ Reentry Corporation, a nonprofit that helps those transitioning from recovery programs and incarceration.
“I give hope to people…sometimes to those who have lost confidence and need to build skills.”
Kimberly Vargas, Express Employment Professionals
According to Kim, the key to employment is the correct employer-employee match. “I work closely with my corporate clients and have built trust. If I meet someone that would be a perfect fit, I can call the client to say, ‘you’ve got to meet this person.’ My client will say yes, even before she’s read the candidate’s resume.”
Express Employment Professional operates like a one-stop career center, updating resumes, coaching candidates through mock interviews and providing them with critical success tips including help with what to wear. For Kim, being bilingual is enormously vital, as she receives at least three to four calls in Spanish each day.
Anna, Kim and, in fact, the entire Express team are experienced, dedicated and have established a wide network of corporations seeking the right employees.
When Dawn Joyce’s son was two-years-old, she suddenly found herself divorced and in need of a job. No problem; she readily found a job as an office manager for a family-owned company and worked there for the next eight years until the recession in 2007. The following year, the business downsized, and Dawn was out of a job. It later closed.
“Searching online for a job felt like I was throwing a dart and didn’t know whether it hit anything or just went into space.”
– Dawn Joyce, now an office manager in Lakewood.
Dawn recalls, “For over a three years I searched, but nothing. After the first year of unemployment, I ended up back at the same restaurant I worked at in college. With so many hats with such varying responsibilities, it kept me learning and busy, and I stayed there for the next seven years. At the same time, I was angry at myself since I had grown complacent.”
When her son was in high school, Dawn renewed her interest in building a career, but was concerned that her skills had become rusty. She took refresher accounting-related courses at a local college. Dawn then resumed her job search that lasted for the next two and a half years, but still could not find employment with a future. “When Express found my resume at one of my posting sites online and emailed me. I was so relieved and so excited.”
Even with Express’ help, still nothing clicked. Kim says, “We worked with Dawn for over a course of six months, coaching and training her and sending her for interviews. We all took a break, but after I happened to go to a restaurant and saw Dawn working there, my heart broke. I felt I had let her down.” With admiration in her voice, Kim adds, “But Dawn never gave up. She kept honing her skills, and she accepted advice. I made it my business to challenge everyone in the office to get her a good job.”
Dawn is now an office manager at a small company in Lakewood. She says, “Express was so helpful, but Kim in particular. She was motivated to get me the best position that fit my skills and interests. I can’t imagine getting that personal attention anywhere else. Having an agency on your side is critical.”
Ana agrees. “There are three of us at my company who found our jobs through Express Employment Professionals. If any of us has a question, Kim always answers immediately. She and Express have our backs all the time. Others didn’t hear from their agencies. I lucked out by picking the right one.”
Kimberly Vargas| Office Manager & Sr. Employment Specialist