Career services department prepares people for new employment
By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
A new year brings new goals, new challenges, and new hopes, and the Career and Employment Services department of Jewish Family Service may be the key to reaching, beating, making and surpassing all three.
JFS’ career-management specialists provide individualized assistance to identify career options in employment transition focusing on placement, improving job-search effectiveness, achieving career goals and re-employment.
“We start with what the job seeker wants to do, what he or she is good at, rather than what they’ve done because the doors open wider,” said JFS’ Director of Career and Employment Services Allison Harding, working with employment coaches including Don Carter, Mitch Jacobs, Phil Konecki and Marlene Mickish. “We delve intensively into the person’s life to help them find their path.”
The Job Search Resource Center, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5:30 p.m., and Fridays from noon to 4:30 p.m., provides job leads, networking contacts, job-search information, use of phone, computers, fax, copier and access to the Internet. It furnishes employers, at no cost, with candidates’ resumes and job requisition postings.
“Networking, and the how-to, is a key piece to what we do,” said Mickish — now a JFS career counselor, but one who truly understands the process. She was hired after coming in to look for a job, a mutual fit that was clear after working with her counselor. “The program is engaging and an important piece of the practice.”
Getting help from JFS is as easy as registering for an intake meeting and orientation participation to determine what services are needed. The team meets weekly discussing all prospective clients, determining which counselor is best suited to meet the individual’s needs.
“We validate each person to decide if it’s resume support, technology skills updating, career exploration, networking or a combination of those and other services that we can provide,” said Konecki, who leads a 60-hour computer skills program covering the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint and safely navigating the Internet. “We’ll create expectations to determine what’s realistic in creating a future. We’re all a team.”
JFS’ website provides myriad resources: full and part-time job listings, recommendations and contacts for those with and without higher education degrees, those just out of high school, applicants searching for career changes or later-in-life opportunities, and those needing to upgrade their skills.
“Allison’s team and the support they provide are incredible. I had no idea our community provided these services but I’m glad it does because it’s made a huge difference for me and my family,” said Jay Hamby, whose job was recently downsized. Having worked with one company for 19 years, and another for six, it took Hamby less than three months, meeting with JFS’ professionals every two weeks, to find his position as general manager of the Allen Premium Outlet Mall.
“When we first met, Allison took my resume and let me know prospective employers would look at maybe one-fourth of it. She coached me through reworking the resume, how to handle a phone interview and negotiate for myself, and how critical networking is,” said Hamby. “If I hear of someone looking for work, in a whole new way, I’ll do anything I can to help.”
JFS’ support team, part of the Working Families Success Program, also helps those, employed or not, to prepare for their financial futures through free, private, one-on-one financial coaching services.
“We look at the financial part of the clients’ lives because it’s important to determine a livable baseline, what’s preferred and what’s ideal, also, creating a budget to pay bills through the course,” said Marina Garcia, who leads the financial counseling program. Garcia noted that many job applications now come with a credit check, and that offers to seemingly otherwise qualified candidates have been rescinded. “Once the client finds employment, we continue to help to re-evaluate and reorganize.”
Entrusting JFS with their support, both economic and in referrals, are the Communities Foundation of Texas, the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the Texas WorkForce Commission, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and the United Way.
Services are also tailored for disabled/special-needs individuals, providing direct assistance in job-search training, job placement and on-the-job training, and career counseling and long-term support services are also provided for veterans — more than 150 have been helped — and their spouses and family members.
“Part of what we do is working with a more challenging workforce, developing a new path for some who come to us,” said Carter. He noted that JFS often refers its other services including the food pantry, family violence support, counseling, concerns regarding older adults, and others. “If one of us coaches recognizes additional need, we walk down the hall and find help. We are one.”
“When I lost my job I also lost my confidence, my optimism and a lot of myself,” said Brad Golman, a former salesman, whose 50-member department was closed without notice, leaving him without severance, support or an imminent future. “I met Allison and she helped me not just put my resume together, but she helped me build myself ready to go out and get in front of people. That is a very big deal!”
Golman, who for the last two years has worked for Senior Helpers, providing caregiving services for older adults, ended up in that role when he re-evaluated what he enjoyed doing, rather than what his personal job history was.
“The attitude and enthusiasm of everyone at JFS is caring and kind and so helpful,” said Golman, who appreciated the computer center and many other resources. “We looked at what really mattered to me and caring for my parents is something I love doing — and they introduced me to my current employer. The all-around experience was incredible.”
Carter, speaking for all, guarantees the team, like all at JFS, “treats our clients with dignity and respect, opening doors — and hearts.”
That is the best job of all.
For more information or to register for programs or career and employment services, contact Allison Harding at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-437-9950 and visit jfsdallas.org/services/career-employment/. JFS is a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.