Finding a job may require getting out of your comfort zone to network. It may also mean learning new expressions.
For example, there isn’t a good way to describe losing a job. “Laid off” implies being brought back at some point. “Got a pink slip” makes it known how old you are.
“Displaced” from a position is a little easier-to-swallow description that offers the hope of becoming employed soon.
No matter how you describe what happened to your former job, the feelings of loss can be overwhelming. The time to bounce back is longer than most expect.
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AARP reported in June 2012 that workers over the age of 55 need about a year to find a job. The average length for a worker under 55 years old is 35 weeks.
Having a support system may shorten the job search process.
Colonial Baptist Church offers a program that can provide spiritual encouragement and networking for professionals in transition. The group, called Colonial JobSeekers, meets most Monday mornings in Cary. It’s free to join and includes coffee.
I discovered this safe haven for job seekers when a friend was “displaced” from a job. From the moment I walked through the student center doors of the Cary church for morning JobSeeker session, I heard the happy buzz coming from the neatly dressed professionals sharing ideas and encouragement.
Most of the members are male and more than 35 years old, with a median age of about 50. My friend, also female, and I stood out a little in the group. We were made to feel welcome during a brief time of networking over coffee and continental breakfast. (Put a few dollars in the jar on the table if you can to cover the cost.)
Once the networking time is over, the group moves upstairs for a general session offering “20/20 Insight” into the current marketplace. At 9:30, the JobSeeker options include choosing a small group, some with industry-specific members for directed networking opportunities, or attending a workshop.
There’s something for all the stages of job hunting, including classes for interviewing, resume writing, cover letters, LinkedIn usage and career exploration. Some of the participants appreciated the environment that provides confidentiality while developing job-searching skills.
Colonial JobSeekers started in 2001 with the collapse of the dot-com industry. Paula Bryan is the leader of the group. She plans the schedule on Monday morning to include a variety of speakers, small groups, and job search resources.
Terri Craig attends most Mondays and shares information on the classes at Wake Technical Community College.
“Paula is wonderful and committed to helping job seekers get connected in a healthy way,” said Craig, who is an adjunct instructor in the Human Resources Development Department at Wake Tech.
Job seeker support
The key to landing a job is getting out from behind a computer and meeting other people.
“Current industry standards tell us that 75 percent of jobs today are filled through networking,” said Bryan, a career consultant for Lee Hecht Harrison.
“If you’re not out there connecting to people, then you run a high chance of being cut off from the network that will produce your next great job.”
Rick Pfeiffer led a workshop on how to become an irresistible candidate.
“Become very effective at using LinkedIn,” said Pfeiffer, vice president and general manager at Keystone Partners. “Be a thought leader, share articles with your network and ask for recommendations.”
Steve Polen is one of the speakers for the “20/20 Insight” general sessions. This portion of the program is designed to help connect participants with Biblical principles.
“Human success does not guarantee a sense of acceptance, security, self-worth or significance,” said Polen, 67, who lives in Cary and retired from GSK to lead Bible studies at Colonial Baptist in 1999.
For the majority of participants, it was a foreign concept not to think of salary first when searching for a job. Polen reminded the group that while John Rockefeller may have been worth billions, he left it all behind when he died.
“Security is not built on the next job,” Polen said. “A life of significance comes from accepting God’s goal for my life, and by His grace, becoming everything He wants me to be.”
Polen takes a deeper cut on the job search with Biblical principles in the Encouragement Small Group, which feels more like family than a networking opportunity. “Keep Calm and Trust God” could be the motto for the participants.
Some of the members in Polen’s session are “pre-revenue.” This new word for me means taking on a leadership role in a company with the hope that it will pay off one day.
Being in a pre-revenue position also helps you try out a new career opportunity.
“About 30 to 50 percent of today’s job seekers may need to reinvent their career during this waiting period,” Polen said.
Mark Tizzard joined the group last fall.
“Colonial Baptist JobSeekers is a light in this journey,” said Tizzard, who landed a job in the banking industry after searching for several months. “When you participate in the group, you get renewed for an effective job search week.”
My friend left Colonial JobSeekers feeling encouraged and is taking the next steps to reinvent her career. I enjoyed participating in several sessions and was blessed when a member of the Encouragement Small Group prayed for my career.
▪ Colonial JobSeekers meets Mondays from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at Colonial Baptist Church, 6051 Tryon Road, Cary. Networking over coffee is 8 to 8:30 a.m. Go to jobseekers.colonial.org.
▪ Wake Technical Community College offers fee-waived courses for qualifying individuals who are unemployed, “underemployed,” or have received notice of layoff. Go to hrd.waketech.edu.