Networking, new skills are vital in job search
I visited the vulnerable underbelly of local joblessness Monday night, and it grieved my heart. Despite a languid month-after-month reduction of our region’s jobless rate, when it’s you out of work — and have been for some time — improving statistics don’t mean much, a cruel poke in the eye.
Statistics do not convey an accurate picture of the jobless situation. Many capable folks can be employed and off the unemployment roster, but in jobs far less in pay scale and far less demanding of their skills. Others simply have given up, drifting in and out of the job search, benefits exhausted, relying on the paycheck of spouses and dwindling savings, unrecognized in the jobless rate.
A challenging topic
Weeks ago, Preston Hollister invited me to address a weekly support group for the jobless. In mulling over the invitation, I questioned Preston. "What useful message could I bring to men and women whose material and emotional resources are near exhaustion?"
I was assured that what I had learned from my personal journey could be helpful to some. For the benefit of others, I could explain the importance of networking and volunteering as a useful job search activity. For all, I could describe job search resources available through the Post-Bulletin Co.
Regardless, I felt increasing trepidation as the date approached. For succor as much as convenience, I asked the P-B’s recruitment advertising specialist, Chad Decker, to accompany me. Better than I, Chad would be able to instruct the assemblage on the free, nationwide resume posting service provided by The Job Network, a service of the Post-Bulletin. As Chad reported, he has helped pair job seekers with employers, from dishwashers to CEOs.
When asked by someone in the group about the P-B’s employment practices, Chad himself proved to be testimony. Rising through the P-B’s circulation and advertising department ranks, Chad’s success is evidence that a talented worker is an employer’s best hiring investment. Now, as Chad completes final coursework to achieve a bachelor’s degree in business administration, his years of part-time studies will prove to be a wise employable investment.
When cost-cutting hits home
In my 43-year newspaper career, I was jobless but once and actually never missed receiving a paycheck. Yet, when it did happen to me, that little bit of potential shocking joblessness did give me confidence to share what I call "Cheap Chapman Advice."
In retrospect, I had for some time recognized the possibility of job loss. The company had been in severe financial straits and expensive litigation due to top-level executive fiscal shenanigans. Shareholders were hugely upset and urged the sale of the company. The board’s reaction was first to reduce expenses by a reduction in work force. That was me.
I remember the commuter train ride back home to Joliet, a bit stunned. However, as reality set in and I quickly passed through denial and anger, the sound of the rail tracks drummed confidence that all would end well. So, by the time Sheryl greeted me at the front door, I was ready to move on.
For 15 months, I was successfully employed in a non-newspaper role. Then I received a phone call from a media consultant friend whom I had impressed over years of contact and observation. that relationship re-opened an opportunity for me to return to publishing, and that’s how I came to Rochester and the Post-Bulletin Co.
Lessons shared Monday night:
• Develop an active network of business acquaintances beyond family and friends. Go where the professionals congregate, get them to know you and your capabilities. They in turn are in a position to refer you when they know of a relevant job opening.
• Volunteer in organizations where you can rub shoulders with business leaders in your field of work. When they know of a job in their organization, they might ask you to interview.
• Take a job — any job, if you must — and give the best performance you can. In addition to feeling useful, you never know where one job could lead to another when your worth is recognized. It happened to me.
• Take a business or technology course and enhance your skill set.
• Get yourself on the big three social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There’s an excellent article on smart ways to market your talents and find employers who crave your job skills in this month’s AARP magazine.
• Join a support group for idea sharing — and venting stress — with like-minded individuals.
• Post your resume on The Job Network, a free service of the Post-Bulletin. E-mail your resume to email@example.com