Agency offers ‘boot camp’ for jobless

Agency offers ‘boot camp’ for jobless

A few months after losing his job with a law firm, Sam Smith (not his real name) has signed on to attend the new job seekers’ “Boot Camp” run by Sheri Brown and Carol Einhorn. “I’m excited about doing it,” the Union County attorney said. “I hope to bring my job search up to date, and hopefully to an end — with a new job.”

The 53-year-old lawyer is among the 15 people who had registered for the first session, on Wednesday evening, July 11, at Temple Sholom in Fanwood. The program, part of Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey’s Economic Recovery Initiative, runs for seven weeks. It is free, open to people from across the region, and people are welcome to join at any point. JFS is a beneficiary agency of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

Smith said, “I am still very new at the ‘2012’ version of searching for a job. Since 1986, every position I held was the result of an employer actually looking for me and finding me through my reputation and successes, and not the result of me looking for a job. Receiving a job offer, out of the blue, without even looking is always very gratifying. No stress, no fuss — but times have changed.”

Married and the father of two college students, he turned to JFS a few months ago. He started attending Einhorn and Brown’s weekly meetings, he said, to learn job-hunting skills and to get “a nice social break from the constant on-line searches for new postings.”

Back in 1986, he said, “we used word processors and no one used the Internet. Social media had not been invented and the guy who came up with Facebook may still have been wearing diapers.

“This Boot Camp program is ideal for someone like me so I can get up to speed with all the new job search techniques and tools.”

Brown and Einhorn have been guiding people in Union County through the rough terrain of the job market for the past three years. Their services, offered at no charge, are funded by a grant from what was the Jewish Federation of Central NJ, now the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

With one-on-one counseling, in weekly seminars, and through talks by experts, held at JFS headquarters in Elizabeth and at other venues, they have helped their clients hone skills some had never needed before — writing resumes, networking and making contacts, and — sometimes the toughest part of all — trying to keep up their spirits until they cross the divide back into gainful employment.

“Most of the people who have been coming to us for a long time have their resumes fairly well set, and they’ve got the basics under their belts about how to handle interviews and so on,” Brown said. “But we wanted to offer a program for people who are new to all of this.”

The job market, she noted, is still bleak. “We’re still finding four or five people for every job posting. At the beginning of the year, it looked as if things were getting better, but now it seems as if we haven’t yet dug ourselves out of the hole we’ve been in.”

Networking is crucial, Brown stressed. “You can’t just sit at home looking at job boards on your computer and send out hundreds of resumes without knowing anything about the people you’re sending them to or what they’re really looking for. It won’t work in this economy. You have to meet people, in person or through social media. In other words, you have to get off your duff and get out there.”

By the start of this week, everyone who had registered for the Boot Camp was college educated, she said. That is true of most of the people in their other groups, but they are open to workers in all fields and regardless of background.

The new program will cover career planning and how to make your search effective, as well as how to present yourself most effectively on your resume and in interviews.

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