Mike Dollinger is searching for a new position in project management or financial systems analysis. The Livingston resident said he goes to a lot of programs to learn, to network, and simply to get out of the house.
“Some I come back from feeling totally depressed, but ones like this give you something new to think about,” he said, emerging from Arne Salkin’s talk at the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany on Jan. 10. “They energize me.”
Dollinger was one of about 45 people who came to hear Salkin outline the best ways to use the social networking site LinkedIn.
The event was hosted by Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest NJ, a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
Salkin, an account executive with Transworld Systems Inc. and a JVS board member, described himself as “a serial client” of the agency, which provides job counseling and referrals. He urged his audience to take advantage of JVS services, and also to network in person as much as possible.
The Internet, he said, is an indispensable part of that process, and LinkedIn can be one of the best tools available. “The free version is very robust,” he said. “Unless you’re a headhunter or an account executive, don’t waste your money” on more expensive networks.
LinkedIn helps job seekers by serving as a database for referrals. Users post their work history and areas of expertise and establish connections with other users, including current and former colleagues, clients, vendors, and classmates. Recruiters are able to look for “passive” job seekers, seekers can announce they are on the market, and potential employers can research candidates and read through endorsements by colleagues.
Salkin, who has 30,000 connections on LinkedIn — the maximum allowed — said that casting a wide net in seeking and accepting connections makes sense, once you sift out unhelpful connections and deepen the quality of the others.
Salkin also introduced the audience to Jigsaw, a site that offers users access to millions of direct-dial phone numbers. To earn access to information, users have to provide information on other people, which some people expressed hesitation about, but, Salkin said, “If you use it together with LinkedIn, you have a very powerful combination.”
“I know how difficult job searching can be,” Salkin assured his audience. He urged them to “make sure you find someone — not your spouse — to help you, to be your coach and your cheerleader, someone who can give you a swift kick in the pants when you need it.”
Karen Berger, a West Orange attorney, said that was advice she understood well.
“I hesitated at first about turning to JVS,” she said, “but I’ve found their workshops and other programs, like the ones on interviewing skills, very helpful.”
She took some time out a few years ago and established a foundation in her late husband’s memory, the Jeffrey W. Berger Research Scholarship Foundation at Pace Law School in White Plains, NY. Now she’s eager to return to work, perhaps doing litigation support, “something paid and substantive,” she said.
“Coming to programs like this,” she said, “you feel that you’re doing something constructive and there’s always something you can learn, some tidbit of information that moves you forward.”