After a year of searching for employment, Dublin area resident Dylan Carlisle, 27, has landed her dream job.

The Erath County native said it was not her skills, but the fact that she "finally" obtained her high school diploma that brought an end to the 12-month search.

Carlisle said when she moved back to the county from California in 2010 she brought with her a work history and related skills she believed would make finding a new job easy. As soon as she pulled into town, the search began. Carlisle said she first applied to positions at Stephenville manufacturing facilities, where doors were quickly slammed in her face.

"A lot of places were hiring, there were plenty of jobs out there," Carlisle said. "But a local staffing agency and the workforce center both told me it would be hard to find a job without a diploma or GED. I was trying to get a job driving a forklift and had two years of experience, but manufacturing plants in the area would not even consider hiring me."

Knowing she had to do something to help pay the bills, Carlisle started applying for customer and food service openings.

"Fast food restaurants wouldn't even hire me," she said.

While she had not completed her secondary education and never obtained her GED, Carlisle said it was not an issue in California. She had successfully obtained several good jobs over the years - Home Depot, a law firm and food service.

"It was not an issue in California," Carlisle said. "It was obvious employers were more concerned with my skills and ability to get the job done. When I came back to Texas, I realized it was a different situation."

As her job search continued, Carlisle found her "dream job" at a manufacturing plant in Millsap that makes products used in the oil and gas industry. Despite her previous failed attempts, she decided to apply.

"I was again told I would have to get my diploma or GED - another let down," she said. "But it was a really good job and something I really wanted to do, so I decided I was going to do what I had to do to get them to hire me."

Carlisle did a little research and realized without a job, she could not afford to get her GED. She was introduced to a home school organization that could help her get her high school diploma. In less than a month and for just $100, Carlisle read through the required texts, passed the test and obtained her diploma.

Immediately, she called the Millsap manufacturer, where they were they kept her application on file and informed the human resources director she had obtained her diploma.

"They called me for an interview about four days later," she said. "I went to that interview and within five minutes, they offered me the job."

After enjoying Labor Day weekend, Carlisle will begin work on Tuesday.

"My salary will be more than I ever thought I could make in this area - I thought if ever found someone that would hire me, minimum wage would be all I would get," Carlisle said. "And it is not just good pay.After 90 days, I will have 100 percent health and dental insurance, vacation time, paid holidays and even a couple of snow days."

With her life making a complete turnaround in just over a month - "thanks to that piece of paper" - Carlisle said she has a message for other individuals yet to complete their educations.

"Get your GED or diploma," she said. "I wish I would have never dropped out of high school to begin with, but things happen. It may seem like it's just a piece of paper, but it really does matter and makes a difference."

Free GED classes will begin in Stephenville following the Labor Day holiday. Registration will be held from 6-9 p.m. today at Stephenville High School, int he Vocational Building, Room V11, to the back of the building. Classes will begin Tuesday, Sept. 6. For information, call Instructor Karen Horn at 967-4016.