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January 19, 2011

CAREER RESOURCE CENTER MEETS GROWING JOB SEEKER MARKET

Courtesy of Patch.com

by:  Patricia Havrin

Human Resource professional Linda Walsh knew her resume was good and how to interview when she signed up at Lake Forest’s Career Resource Center (CRC) after losing her job in 2002. Back then she joined CRC primarily for the networking and programs.

In short time, she landed a position and returned to CRC to volunteer as a networking facilitator. “I told clients I used to be sitting on the other side of the table,” she said. “I know how hard it is to get a job. You will get one.”

Last year, after 30 years as a human resources manager, Walsh was again downsized and returned to CRC as a client.

“The job market in 2009 is a lot harder then 2002” explained Walsh.

Adjust to Changing Job Market

However, there is also a whole lot more going on at CRC then there was eight years ago, let alone 20 years ago when the CRC’s doors first opened. They offer classes in Microsoft Office, more programs designed to upgrade skills and invite speakers to talk to job seekers every month.

“We continually modify, adjust and add and change services because technology and markets change,” said CRC Executive Director Jan Cline Leahy.

Leahy said the current recession is not playing favorites. All levels, ages and disciplines are affected.

“Job search strategies are similar, but the job search process has changed,” she said. “We have changes in resume formats, where space for accomplishments is emphasized and elevator speeches that are no longer black or white, more specific with passion, and proactive.”

Advisement takes on the shape of guiding clients on how to differentiate themselves, with self promotion fashioned in a proactive but not boastful approach, Leahy said.

Put Resources to Work

When new clients sign up for CRC’s fee-based services, they are directed to take advantage of access to private consultations where advisers provide strategies for each person. Clients are empowered through “a full service of not just one adviser and one program, but also access to education and networking with professionals to share resources and stories,” explained Leahy.

Katie Miller, who has a master’s background in counseling and psychology, joined CRC last spring after losing her job in 2009. She appreciated the varied input from advisers.

“Meeting with many different counselors with various perspectives sometimes can be a little confusing, but it was really good for me to get the different kinds of feedback,” Miller said. “I ended up with a hybrid resume that has actually gotten me through to the HR departments. A big step.”

The CRC Team

With a team of more than 115 volunteers, one full-time and three part-time staffers, the CRC has successfully served the needs of more than 1,200 people last year, boasting an 80 percent employment success rate with 58 percent of those placed more satisfied with their new job.

Leahy was hired in 1994 as the first paid staff person for the Center. She noted the success of the center is dependent on the support of generous donations and volunteers.

“They help us to arrange fabulous volunteer speakers and work to provide personalized services that are unlike those in other Job Search Centers, all for a minimal fee,” Leahy said.

With an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent in Illinois, Leahy would like to continue to “provide clients with an opportunity to build enthusiasm, productivity, and the ability to interact with other professionals, which can significantly impact positively the job search efforts.”

For more information, call the CRC at (847) 295-5626.

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