San Francisco East Bay Job Support Organizations – SING – 2nd in a series

February 23, 2010

This is the second in an occasional series on San Francisco East Bay job support resources. The last article was on Experience Unlimited

In 2001, Danville’s St. Isidore School principal Kathy Gannon-Briggs noticed the increase in fathers who were dropping their kids off and picking them up after school. “Why weren’t they at work?” she wondered.

As Tom Loarie, one of the present team leaders for the St. Isidore Networking Group (SING), tells the story, she quickly figured out that these fathers had been victims of the crash, were out of work, and needed help.

Founded in 2001, SING, which is open to all faith traditions , met weekly at Kathy’s home to provide support for those in, or thinking about job transition. The group helped over 250 executives, managers, and professionals between its inception and 2005 when it went into cyber-mode. With the 2008 economic meltdown and strong demand, SING renewed its weekly meetings in January 2009 and is again providing hope and inspiration mixed with resume-writing, interviewing, and networking skills to a much larger group which now meets at St. Isidore Catholic Church.

Each week usually has a guest speaker with transition related talks. One of the recent speakers was John Younger, Founder and CEO of Accolo, a recruitment outsourcing firm, whose message was that today’s job search is like the old wild west: there are no longer any rules. He also stressed the importance of using every social network available to “know” your target company and hiring manager and find creative ways to reach out to them.

SING provides support on networking, identifying and ranking your next company, different types of resumes and cover letters (and how to write one that is top-notch), different types of interviews and interviewing techniques, the use of search firms and job boards, and position negotiation techniques.

SING’s membership in their Google Group is now over 300 members, who receive a daily email with jobs, tips, relevant articles and bits of motivation and inspiration. “This ministry had been extremely rewarding to all involved. I have been fascinated with the bonds participants have developed with one another and know that all are developing friendships which will last well beyond the current crisis.” echoes Loarie.

If you go:

What: St. Isidore Networking Group (SING)

Where: 440 La Gonda, Danville, CA 94526

When: Monday Evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 PM

Contact: Tom Loarie – (925) 525-0272

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile
JP Headshot1


East Bay Job Support Organizations – first in a series

February 5, 2010

The East Bay is blessed with several existing job networking support organizations committed to helping people find their next jobs. They serve people who have been frequent victims of layoffs over the years to the person who has been with their company for 25 years and now finds they have just been cast adrift and don’t know where to turn.

The first in this series about the various organizations highlights Walnut Creek’s Experience Unlimited, Experience Unlimited (EU) is a no-fee career resource center and job search networking group for business and technical professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. EU is sponsored by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and supported by EU volunteers.

It’s a well established group and expertly run by President Glen Zamanian with occasional help from past President Tony Friday. There is a representative from EDD to answer any questions from the members about current benefits, policies and changes with Unemployment insurance. Mainly, this Contra Costa Chapter is run completely by very helpful and knowledgeable volunteers.

Each week a speaker is featured to talk on various topics regarding being in transition. A recent topic was on financial survival tactics while in transition.

An interesting difference from some of the other groups is that membership in EU requires a minimum of 16 hours per month of attending meetings, joining committees, and volunteering, or giving back. There is a “give-to-get” focus, common in many of the other groups.

People who attend often find the experience very motivating and uplifting, especially when people tell of their success in landing a job and how they went about it. The exchange of ideas and strategies to find and get a resume in front of the hiring managers are creative and, even after an interview the position is not offered to them, their confidence level is much higher and willing to keep going and trying new ways to stand out.

The members are very welcoming to new people coming in and the support is unconditional. Long term friendships are often a result of this community of job seekers. Those who haven’t attended may find a new way to land their next job with a strong encouragement and safety net of this terrific organization.

* What: Experience Unlimited
* When: Tuesdays 9:00 – 9:30AM: Informal Networking, 9:30 – 12:00: General Meeting /Orientation & Speaker or Activity
* Where: 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 – Congregation B’nai Shalom
* If You Go: Sign up as a new member so you can be introduced.
Next week: CPC Job Connections in Danville.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile
JP Headshot1

Looking for Your Next Encore Career? Free e-book!

January 16, 2010

Many older job seekers are looking to do something more meaningful than just another job or what they’ve been doing for years in their next career chapter. Some have quit their regular jobs voluntarily, but many have been cast adrift against their wishes due to the severe recession.

For these people, the hardest question to answer is “What am I going to do next?”

According to Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures and author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, “searching for a new job, a purpose-driven job, isn’t easy
at any age. It’s certainly not easy at, or beyond, midlife. What exactly do you want to do now? Can you afford to work for less? Is it worth going back to school? Will employers be receptive to what you have to offer?” has published a free e-book that tackles this dilemma. “The largest generation in American history is in transition, moving beyond midlife to a new stage of life and work. Tens of millions of people between the ages of 44 and 70 say they want encore careers that combine personal meaning, continued income, and social impact,” says Friedman.

The book provides answers to the following questions in a short, visually pleasing format with case studies for each:

* Now that I’m ready to get started, what should I expect?
* What do I need to know about job hunting these days?
* How do I prepare for the possibility of earning less money?
* How can I update my job skills?
* How do I finance the transition to an encore career?
* How can I turn volunteering into a job?
* How do I transition from a corporate job to a nonprofit one?
* What does it take to break into health care?
* How do I become a teacher?
* What is a green job, and how do I get one?
* What are the encore career opportunities in government?
* What are the options for striking out on my own?

Click here for your copy of the e-book.This e-book was published with the support of the MetLife Foundation.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile
JP Headshot1

When You Fall in the Mud Puddle, Check Your Pockets for Fish

January 6, 2010

I’ve been talking about Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone ever since I read it last year because it is the best book on relationship marketing and on the value of your personal network. I’ve mentioned him several times, but the following post from his blog is very relevant and captures his philosophy as it applies to those in transition. I am copying it here in its entirety:

Here are four pieces of advice to those who are in transition in their jobs or careers. My wish is that 2010 is full of wonderful transitions – and that more of them are voluntary!

1. You may have heard people say, “If you can think up the question, you can think up the answer.” Your mind and your character are up to any challenge. So focus on answering this question: “How do I make this change the best thing that has ever happened to me?”

2. Reach out to the real relationships in your life. What better time to figure out who they truly are? No one is better positioned to help you consider what’s next – and how to get it. Also have someone really close help you brainstorm around your greatest strengths and weaknesses; these can provide clues and spark ideas.

3. In addition to the career quest, which will inevitably take twists and turns, commit yourself to some personal pursuits that you have been meaning to take on for a long time but never had the time – for example, run a marathon, become an expert in social media, restructure your personal finances, find the charity to which you want to meaningfully commit, help a friend in need, etc. These will become part of your answer to the question in (1) above, and as important, they’ll provide a positive experience and purposefulness every day.

4. Once you figure out what you want, create a long list of people you need to meet to get there. It’s so much easier for your friends to help you by making introductions if you have your “wish list” mapped out on paper. But don’t rush it: No one can ever help you until you know what you want.

Readers: Care to share transition stories? Nothing like a good success story when you’re looking.

By the way, you can see my columns on career coaching and transitions at SF

JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. specializing in career transitions. He is also a career and financial coach, a freelance writer on career coaching with SF, and has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations.
JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile
JP Headshot1

Weekly Roundup of Top 3 Search Tips

November 20, 2009

It’s Friday and time for the the top 3 job search tips I’ve found from the scores of blog posts I see and pass along. Also, I will be looking for your votes on which is your favorite. Feel free to forward this link to your friends in transition.

1. My first choice is related to a recent one I wrote on Know What You Want. Here Nance Rosen takes the next step (and the hard work) to putting into words what it is we want. Here’s an excerpt:

If You Can Say It, You Can Live It

* By: Nance Rosen on November 17th, 2009 at 5:15 am
* In Networking, People, Personal Branding, Success Strategies | 3 Comments

If you can’t tell people what you do, then you won’t be doing it much longer. If you can’t articulate what you want to do, then you won’t ever be doing it. But, if you can – well, I found out you are one in about 150 people who can complete this sentence:

I am: ______________________ .
On Sunday I spoke to an audience at an event sponsored by the LA Urban Beauty Connection, supporting two philanthropies and drawing a cool, professional crowd that came out to hear experts present on the latest trends in fashion, technology and business. My topic was The Real Secret to Success in Careers and Business, How to Stay Up in a Down Economy. Of course, I was there to talk about personal branding.
Personal branding foundational work.

Typically, I stand on a stage and talk at people (it’s more exciting than that, but basically I’m the show until Q&A or the workshop portion of my personal branding presentations). But, this forum was much more “theater in the round.” I was given the opportunity to do interactive, live coaching for people who had considered but never really hunkered down to do the foundational work of personal branding.

So, I opened with my signature line: “Everyday you have the opportunity to say the one thing that will change your life. I guarantee by the time we’re done today, you’ll know what to say, and where and when to say it.”

Five statement in the personal branding process

What a great way to spend a Sunday, I thought. It was like magnifying the coaching that I do with one person, but having all these people learn from process. I started as planned, by picking one person, but when she seemed a little lost, I move to another. I wound up challenging five people in the audience to complete these 5 statements that are requisite for the personal branding process:

1. I am:
2. I excel at:
3. I do this via these methods/approaches/tactics:
4. Here’s an example:
5. Here’s what I’d like to do more of:

Obviously, I want the answers you’d give in a business setting, or at least an environment that would make an impression on people attending an event like the one we were at. This is a networking opportunity. This is when you’re going to meet strangers; people whom you suspect are candidates for developing valuable relationships. If you do nothing else: you’ve got to have a crisp, clear and compelling way of communicating what you do, how you do it, and what you’d like to do more of (or what you like to do that is a departure from what you’ve got going on now).
Read here for the rest of the article.

2. Next Up – From WSJ’s Laid Off and Looking Blog, an interesting alternative to the search titled:
Postponing the Full-Time Search for a Contract Assignment

By Geoff Hibner

Geoff Hibner lost his job in 2007 after working as the CFO of Banta Corp. The entire executive team was let go when the company was sold. Previously, he was an independent consultant as well as a senior vice president and CFO at The Timberland Co. Mr. Hibner earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1977. He lives with his wife in Neenah, Wis. and has two adult children.

Geoff HibnerIt’s been a number of weeks since I last posted to this blog. I’ve been really busy. Not busy making contacts, that could lead to my next full-time job; instead, I’ve been really busy working as a consultant.

In several of my earlier postings I mentioned making a contact while interviewing for a certain CFO position. Although that introduction was too late for me to be considered for the CFO position, it did lead to the CEO of that company deciding he wanted to meet me to discuss other possibilities. To make a long and complicated story shorter, a series of discussions led to a full-time corporate strategy and financing consulting assignment that began in late August.

The assignment is extremely interesting. I work with solid and dedicated people, and the compensation is good. But, I’m away from home from Monday morning until Friday night, working 55 to 60 hours a week (I’m paid by the week, not the hour), and have little time for activities which might lead to another full-time position.

I’m certainly not complaining. I made the decision to take on this assignment knowing that it would affect my job search activities. I didn’t expect to work quite so many hours per week, but it can’t be helped when there are deadlines to be met.

This assignment could stretch out for several more months, or it could end within the next few weeks. There could be other projects when this one is completed. Even if the opportunity exists to remain in a consulting role for months to come, I’ll really need to decide soon if continuing as I have been is in my longer-term best interests. Some readers will say that to have a full-time position, even as a consultant, in these tough economic times is to be in a great position and that I should continue to devote all my energy to creating value for the company so that there will be follow-on projects. Other readers will observe that consulting positions are often the first to go if a company decides it must cut expenses; even if the position has been created to address a very specific, time-sensitive issue (as mine was), and they’ll insist that I need to somehow find the time to continue my job search. Both will be valid comments and I’ll need to decide sometime soon which way to lean.

Readers, are you postponing your full-time search to keep up with a less-stable contract position? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

3. My last choice today is from Meg Giuseppi and reports on some things you probably already knew but now have statistics on the generation born between 1946 and 1960…

Boomer Career Trends: The Graying of America’s Work Force

By Meg Guiseppi | November 20, 2009

We’ve all been hearing lately that boomers are staying in the workforce longer because their retirement accounts took such a hit recently, and that we can expect the trend to continue well after the economy recovers.

According to one government estimate, 93% of the growth in the U.S. labor force from 2006 to 2016 will be among 55 and older workers.

But you may be surprised to know that the majority of those over 55 stay at work beyond retirement age because they want to stay active into their later years, not because they need the money.

According to a September 2009 nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project:

“A majority (54%) of workers ages 65 and older say the main reason they work is that they want to. Just 17% say the main reason is that they need the paycheck. An additional 27% say they’re motivated by a mix of desire and need.”

The reasons older workers gave included:

* “to feel useful”
* “to give myself something to do”
* “to be with other people”

Conversely, younger adults are staying out of the workforce longer.

Of Americans aged 16 to 24, 57% are in the labor force today, compared to 66% in 2000.

Two factors impacting the youngest working group:

* Instead of diving into full time jobs, they’re getting a college education under their belts to get ahead, and
* Discouraged by dwindling opportunities in this economy, they’re dropping out of the job market entirely.

The Pew report is based on analysis of long-term trends in survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research’s own survey of a representative national sample of 1,815 people ages 16 and older conducted from July 20 to Aug. 2, 2009.

Other key findings:

* Security trumps salary.
* Despite tough times, job satisfaction remains high.
* Older workers are the happiest workers.
* Retirement is not always voluntary.
* Even so, retirement gets high marks.
* The public is skeptical about full-time working moms.
* Most working moms would rather have a part-time job.

You can grab the full report here: Recession Turns a Graying Office Grayer.

JP Headshot1JP McDermott is a financial services and insurance advisor in Walnut Creek, CA. He is also a career and financial coach, has been volunteering his time and experience to various non-profit, service and civic organizations, most recently helping those in transition. His philosophy is to help others be more successful and to enjoy the benefits of meeting new people.

JP lives in Danville with his wife Candy.

Check out his LinkedIn profile

Attitude is Everything

October 29, 2009

JP Headshot1

At the “Jump Start Your Job Search” event Tuesday at St. Mary’s College, we had over 100 people looking for new ideas and tips to help them stand out and find jobs through networking. However, one topic that was addressed that can be an instant opportunity killer is the depression that comes with weeks or months of a fruitless job search. I know how demoralizing it can be – I’ve lived through it. And who wants to be around people who are depressed, never mind hire them?
There are several ways to combat this, which were discussed: Get out of the house, go have coffee with a freind, go volunteer, which I’ve written about in a previous post, help someone in need, who’s worse off than you (and there are plenty of people in that category), or start a success team or networking group. The point is to focus on something or someone other than yourself – it’s energizing and can lead to new opportunities, including the job you’re looking for.

Here’s a great article from Jason Alba, founder of JibberJobber regarding just this topic and how smelling blood can be deadly to your search. Keep a positive attitude and good luck!

Jump Start Your Job Search Event a Success

October 28, 2009

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One measure of a successful event is the number of people who stay after it’s over and how long they stay to talk, network, and ask questions of the panelists and speakers. Yesterday’s event – Jump Start Your Job Search – hosted by St. Mary’s College Graduate School of Business Alumni and MassMutual had over 100 people attend the 4 hour event.

15 minutes after the event, all of the speakers were there and about 2/3 of the attendees. 30 minutes after the event, all of the speakers were still there and about 25 people remained. The feedback was very strong – even from veterans who had seen many of the speakers at other events – but the value, as reported by some, was having all of them together and the questions by Susan Dittmann, moderator of the first workshop along with questions from the audience, really uncovered new ideas and tactics.

Especially relevant was the first panel of Kim Litton, Lee Hecht Harrison Senior Career Coach and Career Management Professional, Tom Loarie, Co-Founder of St. Isidore’s Networking Group and Chairman & CEO of Mercator, a medical device company, and Dean Tracy, co-founder and Executive Director of CPC Job Connections.
Susan asked each of them several questions that generated many more questions from the group. Each brought a bit different perspective from their experience answering questions, but the overall effect was powerful. The questions could have continued far longer, but had to be cut short due to time.

Jud Walsh from the SF Business Times went through how to use the paper to generate business leads. As a research tool, he demonstrated page by page how to identify companies and business owners or leaders to contact for jobs (and hidden jobs) – a very creative approach.

Finally, Dennis Thompson, Executive Recruiter and Career Management Coach, in a very interactive and lively session, showed how to get an interview with the Queen of England… OK, if not the Queen, then at least Barack Obama, by being able to offer them something of value and using the 6 degrees of separation technique. He then translated this into working groups of 6, following a simple, yet powerful script to identify people others know at a target company, or people who may know people at that target company.
While the event ended at noon, several groups continued to stay together and share information. A very powerful close to the event. I mentioned that of the past two events at SMC targeting those in transition, virtually every speaker emphasized – in different, yet emphatic ways – the need to network to stand out from the millions of others who are unemployed. Susan Dittmann said that to be successful in your job search, you must do two things each week that are uncomfortable and one thing that terrifies you. This was also echoed by many of the speakers.

Thanks to each of the speakers for volunteering their time and experience in helping those in attendance!