Classified information - Martha Carr

The new unemployment count is out for March and, lo and behold, we finally gained some jobs.

There are 162,000 new positions, above what had existed out there in the work force, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's the largest gain since March of 2007, when the recession was probably starting to seep into the economic system, but way in advance of when we all finally noticed in the summer of 2008.

Since then, we have all learned a few things about mortgage-backed securities, egos on Wall Street and how easily large corporations and entire neighborhoods can cease to exist. Never mind the mind-boggling 8.2 million jobs that vanished since December of 2007.

But focus on the news that 162,000 of those people finally heard the words they'd been waiting for, for quite a while. We pick you.

The unemployment rate is holding steady at 9.7 percent, which is high but actually still good news. It had been steadily creeping upwards. This may be the other side of the tipping point because historically, in terms of the economy, when a trend begins, whether it's good or bad, it tends to keep rolling in the same direction.

So, for the millions of people who have been keeping their household budgets going by the skin of their teeth, hang in there. Your chances of getting hired seem to be increasing.

Just getting an interview these days is a daunting task. Most employers, big or small, will no longer take phone calls from prospective employees, which means millions of people are out there sending resumes by e-mail into the void. Unless your lucky number comes up, you will never know what they thought of you or your chances.

That can make it tough to explain there's a gap in time because of a sick parent you were caring for, or show that you are great one-on-one.

A few helpful hints from the job experts are to state clearly, up top, what kind of job you're trying to get. List after each employment how your actions benefited the company instead of just a skill set. I think that's referred to in sales as selling the sizzle instead of the steak.

Another suggestion from the professional headhunters, which may sting a little for anyone over the age of 40, is if you're older to remove the year you graduated from the resume so that human resources focuses on the accomplishments instead of the fact that they were in grade school when you were in college.

A clever friend of mine has started having her own networking parties in her home, inviting only one from each profession of all the friends she knows. Women get together to trade information, horror stories and remind each other to laugh through it all.

Some friends who are trying to expand their skill set have done four-week corporate internships to sharpen their skills, show a potential employer what they can do and round out their resume. Others have volunteered their services to non-profits for the same reason.

While it's true that it's been an employer's market for a few years now, it won't always be the case. The balance will start to tip in the other direction, and it will be possible to have employment that suits your skill set and doesn't involve helping someone find that in their size or trying to remember if grande means medium or large.

Think of the stories we'll embellish for our grandchildren some day.

April is going to be the real test to see if the encouraging trend can hold, and if it does, optimism may encourage manufacturers to increase their orders in anticipation of a turn-around, which has a roll-out effect on everyone else. Banks may lend more to smaller businesses, which helps them add new hires.

In other words, a self-fulfilling good feeling will then ripple throughout America.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail Martha at Martha@caglecartoons.com.