Job-seeking advice for out of work execs

Support group can help

Each Wednesday morning in a quiet corner of Mequon, a group of executive job seekers meets at Lumen Christi Catholic Church. The sole purpose of this group is to assist unemployed executives/job seekers in finding their way back into the workplace.

No fees, only caring, non-judgmental support from their peers served with hot coffee and a donut. Since 2002, the Lumen Christi Employment Network has assisted more than 700 attendees in finding their way back into the workplace. Some of the attendees have used these resources more than once and belong to multiple support and networking groups. These alumni have become a valuable resource to future group members and nodes on LCEN’s ever-expanding network.

Members attend the weekly meetings and openly share their successes, setbacks and lessons learned. The group then provides feedback and suggestions on how to improve and focus their search.

Some of the lessons shared are as follows:

  • Network with the temp agency or recruiter; keep yourself visible and available. You should maintain contact with your recruiter and ask to be kept up on their efforts on your behalf. You want to keep them aware of your status and desire to find a job.
  • Develop a personal board of directors to help keep you accountable during your search. Enlist the assistance and support of business contacts, friends and network members in keeping you accountable for progress on your marketing plan.
  • Be active in your search by developing your own marketing plan. You need to have a personal marketing plan outlining what steps you will take to obtain a job. This plan should include your temporary agency contacts, referral sources, websites and networks you are listed on. This plan should also include a timeline and be reviewed with your personal board of directors.
  • Change your vision and understand that temporary assignments can lead to full employment. Experts say it is easier to get a job when you have a job. Taking one or more temporary assignments permits you to build your expertise and audition for potential employers. Many employers like to engage a potential employee before they make a long-term commitment.
  • Increase your visibility and network by volunteering three to five hours a week with a local nonprofit organization during your job search.
  • Develop separate resumes that are targeted at specific job opportunities. You should respond to each potential employment opportunity with a customized cover letter and resume. You have an opportunity to highlight your specific strengths and experience that match the job requirements.
  • Take advantage of all available resources. Important ones to investigate include the various workforce development offices. They feature job search professionals with tremendous experience and useful tools, including resume review and interviewing practice, among others. Offices are located in Mequon, West Bend and Pewaukee.
  • Know when, how and with whom to negotiate, salary, benefits and other items. Be sure your recruiter is aware of your minimum salary, benefit and vacation requirements. This will prevent you from going out on interviews that will not result in a legitimate offer.

Being a member of a job search support group is a productive way to use your time and energy during your search. The larger your network, the better your probability of finding a job. In addition, you reduce the possibility of getting easily frustrated when you are a member of a support group. By sharing, you actually can reduce your level of anxiety, while learning from the experiences of others.

If you want to join the Lumen Christi Employment Network, contact Pat Cronin or Peter Wick. Pat’s email address is pat_cronin@sbcglobal.net and Peter can be reached at pwick@wi.rr.com.

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Cary Silverstein
He was a senior professor at DeVry's Keller Graduate School in Wisconsin. Cary has published articles in periodicals and on the Internet. He recently published first book with Dr. Larry Waldman, "Overcoming Your NegotiaPhobia". Cary holds MBAs from L I U’s Arthur T. Roth School of Business. Cary has a BA from CUNY, Queens College. He has certificates in Negotiation from Harvard’s PON and in Labor and Employment Law from Marquette University.