Lots of energy goes into the selection, reporting and presentation of Seven Days' journalism. But these days the 15 pages of help-wanted ads in back of the paper tell an important story, too: Vermont businesses are starting to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. But slowing down the process is a shortage of labor.
Our job ads highlight a wide array of local openings, a true cross-section of the Vermont economy. Employers are looking to hire security officers, a chamber music festival director, an environmental reporter, a deputy city manager, boatyard help, housekeepers, a youth services librarian, cheesemakers, summer camp staff, a water well driller's helper and a farmland conservation analyst.
Some companies are offering bonuses, free training and generous pay and benefits, including profit-sharing, to new employees.
Even if you're not looking for a job, the classifieds section makes for interesting reading. After a terrifying, boom-and-bust year, Vermont appears to be a workers' market.
Companies of all stripes advertise their job openings in Seven Days. Their investment helps fund our award-winning newspaper. For most media companies, this particular source of revenue no longer exists.
We built our classifieds section when Craigslist was catching on across the country, decimating newspapers in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and other large cities. In 2004, many of our independent weekly colleagues in other states gave up on traditional classifieds and made a deal with a national advertising website called backpage.com. Seven Days declined and stayed the course — dodging a bullet, as it turned out. We hired a software company in Montpelier, Bear Code, to put our classifieds online. By the time Craigslist arrived in Vermont, our site was well established.
We've made some changes over the years. Bear Code delivered a few upgrades, and in 2017, Seven Days associate publisher and creative director Don Eggert moved the jobs section to a mobile-friendly site at jobs.sevendaysvt.com that makes it easier to apply for open positions and manage applications.
Those technological improvements have helped us hold our own against national competitors including Monster, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn and Indeed. There have been tough times — the recession of 2008, for example, and almost all of last year — but most Vermont businesses have eventually returned to us for help with their hiring needs.
The ads work — in large part, because our readers do. "Applicants from Seven Days ... are quality individuals who actually take the time to write thoughtful cover letters," Carolyn Zeller of the Intervale Center noted in a testimonial that appears in this week's paper. "That is not the experience I've had on bigger job boards like indeed.com."
Zeller also noted the excellent customer service she gets from employment rep Michelle Brown — who, incidentally, just celebrated 24 years at Seven Days.
Give Michelle's section a glance this week, even if you're not in the market. You probably know someone who is. It will take many hands to make Vermont work again.