Unemployed network, find support at weekly meetings
By Senitra Horbrook, Staff Writer
(Created: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 1:20 PM CDT)
During the Monday morning meeting of the Carrollton Career Focus Group, Tracy Leard noted that employers aren't interested in his old accounting experience because he doesn't have current certifications.
"It's either current or they don't want to talk to you," he said.
That's when he got a helpful tip from another job seeker to write "preparing for" certifications on his resume and job search web sites will pick it up as a keyword.
Information like this is shared weekly at the Hebron and Josey location of the Carrollton Public Library, where about 25 job seekers meet for two hours.
"We're not here to be the one to find you job leads," said Claire Mullins, the group's moderator, who herself is searching for employment as a PeopleSoft Business Analyst. "The purpose is to find networking opportunities."
Sue Heusing attends the group for motivation. Heusing has been unemployed since February 2008.
"I needed that jump start on Monday morning," she said. "It's so easy to vegetate."
Kathryn Taylor said she has had several telephone interviews, but no face-to-face interviews, since losing her job in December.
"I like it because it does start your week off in the right direction," she said. "And you meet people."
The March 30 meeting began with a local recruiter, who talked about his experiences. Then attendees shared good news about members who had found employment. As moderator, Mullins shared information about local career workshops and upcoming job fairs.
"The number of unemployed seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, so let's see what we can do to get us back among the employed," she told the group.
Then, everyone proceeded to do their "30-second commercials," which involved saying their name and describing what they do.
"We consider it practice or the ‘you meet somebody in an elevator speech,' " Mullins said. "It's brief, forward thinking and not your history. One acronym used is ‘WIIFM' (What's in it for me?) You have to gear your pitch to how you can help them."
Claude Dollins, an executive coach of The Dollins Group, heard about the Carrollton Career Focus Group through his church and came to share some advice about knowing your competitive edge and natural talent.
"If I'm interviewing you, I want to know what you can do for my bottom line very quickly...that you can bring something special immediately," he told the group.
The group also spent time discussing LinkedIn and how they select specific companies to target for employment.
Buddy Fly, who has been unemployed since January, said he found his previous job through a similar group and hopes something similar will happen for him again.
"It's a good way of bonding," he said.
The Carrollton Career Focus Group is affiliated with other groups through www.careerdfw.org, which has a number of links to job search sites, workshops and other area networking groups.