Human billboard wants work

By Kelsey Wilkie

Pounding the pavement in search of a job is hardly unusual but Sharla May has taken a different approach to hitting the streets in pursuit of employment.

The unemployed 31-year-old became a very public employment wanted advertisement as she looked to speed up job hunting yesterday. She spent 90 minutes standing on the corner of Victoria Ave and Taupo Quay with a placard asking for a job.

Miss May stood on the corner from 7.30am to 9am.

When the Chronicle stopped off to talk to her she had already been offered part-time work. She is still keen to find full-time work.

"I just hope it doesn't cause an accident," said Miss May of her unusual job-hunting activity. "I had a lady stop right on the corner to offer me work."

She is after administration or retail work and has experience in admin, payroll, book-keeping and customer service.

"Anything full-time and customer-service based will do," said Miss May.

Statistics New Zealand figures show Wanganui has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at 9.4 per cent - above the national rate of 7.3, the worst since 1999.

Wanganui Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union spokesman Colin Webster said last month that, as a regional centre, Wanganui suffered the brunt of the economic downturn.

"And everybody suffers, businesses including the workforce as well," he said. "There aren't that many jobs in Wanganui and what jobs there are usually get snapped up pretty quick."

Opportunities were limited. The unemployed were told to upskill, but there were no incentives or help to do so.

Nationally, unemployment rose by 19,000 to 170,100 in the year to September, pushing the unemployment rate up from 6.6 per cent to 7.3 per cent - the highest since 1999.

Miss May decided to take matters into her own hands after moving from Te Kuiti to Wanganui and seeing only five jobs in the newspaper.

"I've never done this before and it took a lot of courage to get me out here," she said.

She only told a few friends about her idea to advertise her experience with a sign on the street as she thought they might try to talk her out of it.

Miss May saw the idea online, and decided to give it a go.

"Having a job find you is popular in America. I recommend it to anyone looking for work and they are welcome to join me."

She is going to be standing on the corner every day until she gets a job.

If you can help, contact Miss May on 0275 065 797

- Wanganui Chronicle

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