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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News

Justin Brown, 25, of Detroit says he enjoys working as a sales representative at Comcast even though he's earning less than he did as a car wash manager.

Hiring even in tough times

Tech, finance, health care firms hang out help-wanted signs

Jennifer Youssef / The Detroit News


Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News

Comcast trainer Douglas H. Edwards of Detroit helps prepare Justin Brown to be a sales representative in Southfield. Comcast wants to hire 400 technicians, account executives and customer support staff. See full image

Who's hiring

  • Verizon Wireless: Hiring technicians, sales reps, customer support staff
    On the Web:
  • Comcast: Looking for technicians, sales reps, customer support workers
    On the Web:
  • Rock Financial/Quicken Loans: Hiring mortgage bankers, marketing and accounting staffers
    On the Web:
    Phone: (800) 411-JOBS (411-4627)
  • Delphi Corp.: Engineering, accounting, information technology
    On the Web:; for temporary jobs, go to
  • Plante & Moran: Hiring accountants
    On the Web:
  • Huron Valley Sinai Hospital: Hiring nurses, medical technicians and patient-care associates
    On the Web:

    Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News

    Christine Seidel, 31, of Ann Arbor works in sales at Comcast, earning about the same before she was laid off at Ford. See full image

    Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News

    Yaman Subei, 19, a Michigan State University student, is interning at Plante & Moran, which plans to hire 100 college graduates by August. See full image


  • Despite headlines blaring that tens of thousands of workers are losing their jobs through buyouts, retirement, layoffs and firings, many southeast Michigan employers are hanging out the "help wanted" sign.

    Outside of the struggling auto and airline industries, companies in the tech, service, finance and health care fields say they'll be hiring thousands of workers in the next few months.

    "We put too much emphasis on the auto industry and don't think about other jobs," said Tom Naughton, associate chairman of the Wayne State University School of Business.

    Just ask Christine Seidel.

    The former Ford Motor Co. project manager was laid off in January, after eight years. After a five-month job search, the 31-year-old Ann Arbor woman landed a job in sales at Comcast, earning about the same as the $56,000-a-year job she left at Ford.

    "With the job market so tough in Michigan, I'm lucky to get this," said Seidel, who works the phones at the company's Southfield office. "It's been great so far."

    Seidel's story is a bright spot in Michigan's stagnant economy, which has been at or near the top for unemployment in the United States for the last two years.

    Michigan lost 88,000 manufacturing jobs between 2001 and 2003, according to the 2006 Michigan Manufacturers Directory, an industrial guide published by Manufacturers' News Inc. in Evanston, Ill. While the state's 17,075 manufacturing companies still employ 842,980 workers, Michigan ranks seventh in the nation for manufacturing employment.

    It's easy to focus on all that gloom and doom, Naughton noted, because manufacturing has been such a big part of the Michigan economy for decades.

    Still, he added, the public tends to forget that there are other companies that would gladly snatch up qualified people to work for them.

    "There are other employers out there," Naughton said.

    Comcast seeks to hire 400

    Comcast, for example, is looking to hire 400 technicians, account executives and customer support staff, even after hosting a job fair in Southfield in May that attracted 2,000 job seekers. The jobs pay between $11 and $13 an hour, offer health and retirement benefits and employees have the opportunity for promotion.

    Justin Brown of Detroit said he left his job as assistant manager of a car wash in Southfield because he was forced out. After looking for a new employer for a couple of months, Brown, 25, landed a job he enjoys with Comcast.

    His new job in sales pays less than the car wash did, but, he said, "There's room for advancement."

    Over at Livonia-based Rock Financial/Quicken Loans mortgage bankers are in demand as the company expands. The mortgage company is hiring up to 200 people each month for an unlimited time to work in well-paying jobs such as banking, technology, accounting and marketing, where starting salaries are between $70,000 and $80,000 annually.

    The company has 3,500 employees and needs more workers because business is booming. In 2004, Rock Financial/Quicken Loans closed $12 billion in loans and in 2005, it jumped to $16 billion.

    Chief Executive Officer Bill Emerson said his company plans to hire at least 400 more people in Metro Detroit in the next few months to fulfill the growing company's needs. He wants to expand operations beyond the offices in Livonia, Troy and Auburn Hills.

    "The only limit," Emerson said, "is not having enough great people."

    Know your skills, assets

    Regardless of where they've worked and the kind of work they've done, everybody has skills that can be an asset in a new job, said Prudence Cole, a Grosse Pointe career coach, author and adviser who runs the Web site She encourages job seekers to identify their strengths and find a job where they will be doing what they love.

    "I tell people to think about what they want to do and which skills they have," Cole said. "No matter where you've been, you have skills that are transferable."

    Health care is another booming industry, Naughton pointed out. With 164 hospitals in the state, hundreds of out-patient health clinics and an aging population, the need for health care workers is always increasing.

    Michigan's aging population and current shortages of nurses, pharmacists, dentists and other health care professionals has the state expecting more than 100,000 job openings by 2014, according to a 2004 report by the state's Department of Labor & Economic Growth.

    Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital is expanding its emergency department and plans to hire 12 staff nurses, a clinical manager, two radiation physicists and three patient care associates.

    "We're in a growing community," said Leslie Fleming, spokeswoman for the Commerce Township hospital.

    Plante & Moran LLP, the accounting and consulting firm in Southfield just added 60 to 70 summer interns and will hire up to 100 recent graduates by the end of August. Recruiters are often at college campuses to find future accountants and tax professionals, said Teresa McAlpine, director of communications

    "We have very low turnover, but we do hire interns," McAlpine said, noting the firm's extensive campus recruiting program.

    'I feel very blessed'

    Another company beating the bushes for new workers is Verizon Wireless, where Julie Schubert landed a job after a three-month search.

    Schubert was nervous about moving back to Michigan after spending a year in Florida. She heard the economy was tight and she didn't know if she'd be able to find a job, but the 24-year-old wanted to be closer to family and moved to Richmond to give it a shot. Now she's earning more as a sales representative at the Sterling Heights store than she was at a Walt Disney World hotel, Schubert said.

    "I feel very blessed that I was able to get this job," she added

    Verizon aims to fill 130 positions by the end of the summer, with most of the new employees working at the Southfield office and the rest going to retail stores in the region, said spokeswoman Michelle Gilbert.

    The average annual salary is $28,000, plus incentives such as retirement funds and college tuition.

    "We're not laying people off," Gilbert said. "We're growing."

    You can reach Jennifer Youssef at (313)222-2300 or

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