Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships


Motivational Counseling As An Essential Tool in Job Search Process

By: Stephen Colella

Having operated the job club here in Rhode Island since the Fall of 2009, the average person participating in the program has been unemployed an average of 77 weeks. During this period of unemployment many challenges and hardships have arisen.

When an individual is out of work for an extended period of time they begin to lose confidence in their skills and abilities, they lose dignity, respect, self worth, inability to pay bills and feed their families. As a result they become despondent and lack motivation and desire to believe the job search process can work for them. They feel as if they have lost their role in society, to be productive and work. They send out resumes and job applications with little or in most cases no response from prospective employers. They begin to believe they have no skills and abilities and nothing to offer. Many of the individuals are doing job search individually with no support or encouragement from friends or even family members and eventually this leads to a decrease in motivation and desire to seek employment.


For these exact reasons I initiate resume development early in the job club process (week 2). It is essential for job club participants to realize and understand that for the most part they have good work skills and experience which have  been documented over the years. It is essential to see those skills and abilities professionally summarized on a resume. Through no fault of their own they are unemployed either through layoffs, downsizing of companies or relocation.


Combining motivational counseling in a group setting individuals soon learn they are not alone in the quest to seek employment. They are not alone in their inability to find a job or in feeling a lack of self respect or believing they have nothing to offer. Group support, encouragement and motivational counseling are essential in assisting an individual to believe the job search process can be successful. In a tight job market, attitude, confidence and the ability to articulate skills and abilities to a prospective employer often is the difference in the hiring process.




No one ever hires a resume, but your resume is often the “first impression” a hiring entity will have of you.  Many job seekers who are over 50 years of age make some common mistakes in resumes that will get them overlooked.  There is no second chance to make that first impression.

Many resumes written by 50 job seekers are composed in outdated formats and are in a chronological format.  Be sure to research current resume outlines and construct yours accordingly.  Any search engine will supply you with numerous links with the information, and look at several and find one that you are most comfortable with.  Supply information on positions held and company names and your specific contributions but omit dates.  Title this section “Recent Work Experience” and supply number of years spent in the organization, for Example:  XYZ Company, City, State, VP of Operations, 8 years.   This is especially important if you are trying to re-enter the workforce as well.

Avoid words like “seasoned”, “weathered”, “tested”, “veteran” as these instantly age you.  Hiring companies see them as buzzwords for those who are older.  Presenting solid accomplishments without the fluff is going to get your phone to ring.  Do not minimize your contributions but describe them accurately and don’t be modest.

If the company requests your resume via email, send it by email.  Paper resumes are pass? until you are in the interview.  Be sure to include a great cover letter.  Cover letters are still important despite some opinions that state otherwise.  An effective cover letter will make the person who reviews the resume eager to review yours.  Cover letters should be tailored to the specific qualifications of the job for which you are applying and to the specific employer.

Convey through the style and content of your resume an understanding of the company’s needs, priorities, and hiring criteria.  Avoid self-flattering terms such as "highly skilled, outstanding, or excellent." Describe your accomplishments effectively and let readers decide for themselves that you are well qualified.  Focus on measurable achievements in each role as opposed to a play-by-play of your daily responsibilities

Proofread carefully and in addition, ask others to proofread for you.  You can never be too careful. Hiring managers perceive mistakes as a lack of interest, unprofessional and unintelligent.  Pay close attention to your email address and phone number, as it is suicide to have those critical pieces of information incorrect.

In a world of social networking, everyone has become their own brand and you will need to show companies what you represent. Include your Twitter and blog URLs, or your Linked In profile, so potential employers can learn more about you as a person. If you don’t have any of these accounts, start now. It is vital for potential employers to know that you are current on social media. Twtbizcard  is another great way to capture all of your 2.0 IDs. Of course, double-check by googling yourself to make sure there isn’t anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see on your sites.

Finally, remove “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of the resume.  Employers expect that you will supply references and you should have them available, preprinted, when you go to the interview.  You are dating yourself and wasting valuable space on the resume.

The most minute details make all the difference.  The most successful candidates are those who are ready and willing to adapt to the changing employment landscape. It doesn’t matter how ready you are for the modern workplace if your resume is straight out of the dark ages.  You may not be able to turn back the clock but you can make your resume attractive to hiring companies no matter what your age!

Thanks for reading...

A success story
By Vera Hurst, Speaker Coordinator/Volunteer, Community Job Club

James came to the Community Job Club after being laid off from a lucrative job.  He was a highly skilled and knowledgeable technical professional, over fifty and had worked for the same company for many years.  Imagine his surprise when he found his name was on the company’s lay off list.  He had not had to look for a job for twenty eight years.   He, also, found himself in a highly competitive market since his company had released over 200 similarly skilled employees.

After trying on his own to find employment in this competitive market he came to the Community Job Club for assistance.  When he attended a CJC resume workshop, he found that his resume contained language which aged him.  He also learned to write a cover letter which was tailored to the job for which he was applying.

Months of networking with potential employers, searching company job boards and following up on leads from past business contacts had not produced employment.  Early on in his job search, he sent his updated resume to a friend he had worked with at his past employer.  One afternoon, his friend’s boss called to ask if he was still searching for a job.  As it turned out, the friend had given his boss James’ resume and he had been so impressed with it that he called to ask James if he wanted to do some contract work for them.  James jumped at this offer and after working for several months was offered a full-time position.  Resume updates, flexibility, persistence and targeted resumes to good fit companies all worked together to put James in a position where he was able to find a terrific new position.

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Step Away from the Ledge

By Jennifer Oliver O’Connell

With over two years of unemployment, partial employment and contract work, I have been forced to become quite skilled at keeping up with the latest trends in the job market; for my own self-preservation, as well as for the group of career transitioners and job seekers that I facilitate.  As luck would have it, I am now sought out by other online and face-to-face groups to speak or to act as a subject-matter expert on this.  Jeeze--who would have thought what I was looking for in my former career in legal IT, I would find through helping others?  I'm a rock star, without the spandex and loud music.

So I diligently keep up on the latest and greatest regarding this recession, the job market and maintaining your skills in order to move back into the workforce, market yourself more precisely, or to build your own business.

I often watch with a jaundiced eye as the news media blows smoke up our collective you-know-whats to try to prop up a meme that is clearly in a deteriorative state.  Then the next day, they come up with a different set of reasons and numbers that belie what they said yesterday.  One week politicians and experts are crowing over the economy improving and jobless claims going down.  Then another week passes, and those in the know are shocked, SHOCKED that jobless claims are up again.  It's enough to make you want to take a dive off Mount Wilson--or your balcony, which is probably closer.  So, who do you believe? More importantly, What do you believe?

I encourage my Tuesdays with Transitioners ( members and other job seekers I encounter to keep their wits about them, keep putting themselves out there, and most essential: Know your worth.  Unless you are able to maintain confidence and your own viability and marketability, and be able to convince employers of this, you’re basically toast.

Take note of the market signs around you, but don’t necessarily believe what is being reported.  I recommend paying attention to what others in the workforce are seeing/experiencing, and what is going on with the companies or industries where you would like to find employment.  They have websites, Twitter and Facebook pages—bookmark, and start to follow them.  Companies, both small and large are what will make or break this economy, and the media and experts are often behind the curve on what is truly happening.

Many of the Tuesdays members are starting to get more calls, and a few have even landed the elusive golden goose: A full-time job.  Sometimes this has taken one interview, sometimes several.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, and you are being paid attention to; you just may not be aware of by whom, or to what degree.  I recently received a call from a legal recruiter who saw my resume on Yahoo! HotJobs, but held on to my information until the market started to pick up.  Once she recognized signs of life and had some viable openings, she chose to make contact.  So, it pays to become aware, to market yourself, and recognize how that marketing can pay off.

How long you have been out of work is also not a factor--it's a Jedi mind trick of the media and certain companies that want to make you think this holds significant weight.  What matters is whether you and your skills are a fit with a company and how much they need your particular expertise.  From what I hear from my recruiter contacts, there is no rhyme or reason to WHY they hire one over the other (even though they may claim that there is). What is true is that employers are looking for, and hiring good quality candidates.  However, they are increasingly doing it through alternative means: volunteer staff who become permanent staff, new media marketing, employee referrals, and networking through support groups like People Between Jobs, Pink Slip Mixers, and Tuesdays with Transitioners.  These alternative means are becoming the norm, and the savvy job seeker should be paying attention.

The signs of the market in terms of viable industries, who are the hiring managers, and your own marketability are what you pay attention to; not the latest trends, numbers or smoke-and-mirrors blathering.  It will help to keep you off of the ledge.


by Secretary Hilda L. Solis

Preparing 20th century workers for the 21st century workforce; these words describe the mission of Tuesdays with Transitioners, a job club run by Jennifer Oliver O’Connell at the Congregational Church of Northridge in Northridge, CA.

This week, I had the opportunity to hear first-hand how job clubs like Jennifer’s are helping Americans get back to work during a roundtable event organized by my department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP). For example, Jennifer utilizes social media and the latest technology, including tools such as LinkedIn to train all of her job club members how to network.

The event also marked the launch of a new project by the CFBNP to reach out to the many job clubs – also known as career ministries, network groups, and work search roundtables, among other names – across the country and link them with the public workforce system, including DOL’s network of 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers.  

To encourage collaboration between job clubs and the workforce system, CFBNP has partnered with DOL’s Employment and Training Administration to issue a Training and Employment Notice on job club partnerships. They have also launched an interactive web site, a Community of Practice  where job club coordinators and others can connect with each other to share success stories, promising practices, as well as tools and materials.

For displaced workers, many of whom are out of work for the first time in 20 or 30 years, job clubs provide advice and guidance on employment opportunities. And more importantly, as I learned listening to our roundtable participants, they create a sense of belonging and a community of emotional support, understanding, and empowerment for individuals who have lost a job through no fault of their own.

Job clubs are truly an American institution. Many are hosted by churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions, as well as secular community organizations like local public libraries. They are often run by volunteers who answer the call of duty to help out their fellow neighbors and community members. I think Ken Soper, who has set up jobs clubs in Grand Rapids and throughout Western Michigan, summed this notion of service well when he stated that job club coordinators follow one of the most universal maxims across religions and beliefs, the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

To view the recorded webcast of the roundtable visit:

Click here to view the original blog post:


Secretary Solis hears first-hand how job clubs are helping Americans get back to work during a roundtable event organized by the department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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