Hello family, friends, and fellow bloggers.
Phew…..wasn’t yesterday’s blog a little heavy coming from me? Not my usual bubbly, silly family stuff… kind of blog. I knew I was emotional, frustrated, angry, afraid, and of whirl of other emotions while I was writing it, I didn’t think anyone would be pick up on my emotions until I heard from fellow blogger Jill of All Trades…Expert of None! (if you don’t follow Jill you are missing out), sent me a note stating that she could feel my frustration.
But it is frustrating, you feel like you are spinning your wheels faster and faster only to realize you haven’t made any progress at all. It’s frustrating because everything is automated, from the unemployment agency to applying for jobs. You don’t talk to any one anymore, there is no visual contact, no warm body, no one to try to help you, no one to acknowledge that you do exist, that you are not just a number or a piece of paper.
A few months ago while at our local Michigan Works office, I was invited to attend a Career Forum. All I was able to find out about this forum was that it was designed for people who have demonstrated job readiness, which actually means you have a professional resume, you know how to conduct job searches via job boards, networking, and other media and you’re confident in your ability to interview. I fit the criteria, what did I have to lose….I accepted the invitation. The forum was scheduled for today from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
When I arrived at my local Michigan Works office I was the first one there for the forum. I was sent to the vending machine are to take a seat and wait for the others. As the room filled, about 20 people, I quickly noted that there were more women than men in attendance; the average age of the group was 45 plus, maybe close to three-quarters of the group.
Conversations were started, job search stories and frustrations shared. There were people in that room who had spent 20 and even 30 years at companies and now found themselves unemployed. Hourly workers, salaried workers, production workers, accounting people, the group was a mix from all areas.
One lady, who would be in my group, has been out of work for four years and is not collecting benefits, she is a sole source of income, working contract jobs that keep her till the 89th day and then release her because after 90 days, most contract houses require that you make a job offer.
At 9:00 a.m. a women came into the room and asked who was there for the resume writing seminar….six people raised their hand and were instructed to follow her. A few minutes later a nother woman came to the doorway and asked who was there for the job search seminar……about 10 people followed her.
Four of us were left, three women over 50 (we talked and shared this info), and one young man in his late twenties, early thirties; a Bookkeeper, a Customer Service Rep, a Football Coach and me, a Human Resources Professional. Hmmm, kind of like our own quirky “Breakfast Club.” A young woman appeared at the door and asked us to follow her.
I will admit here and now that I did go in with a little negativity this morning, which was then supported and further encouraged by the conversations of the gathering group in the break room as we waited to attend our sessions and forums. I really didn’t want to waste two hours in a room with someone who was going to attack and/or discredit what I or anyone else was doing in our job search. Nor did I want to sit through a lecture on resume writing , interview techniques and job boards.
I was pleasantly surprised and quickly pulled into the spirit of the forum when we were introduced to Jennifer and Scott. They went around the room, collected our resumes and asked each of us to introduce ourselves, talk a little bit about our background, what types of positions we were looking for and what we felt was our biggest challenge.
They explained that by attending this forum we were now part of the “Service Silo.” We are required to continue our own job searches, however, we would now have access to job openings with companies that Michigan Works Talent Specialists are working with. Employers, willing to work with Michigan Works to find the right candidates for their positions and instead of apply through job boards, our resumes are submitted directly to the employer by a Michigan Works Talent Specialist. Music to my ears…..a real person, resume transfer from person to person. Right now there are only about 100 people in the Silo program.
They talked to us about retraining programs, career fairs, grants, networking and social media. They even talked about Pinterest!
We reviewed the process for finding out about new job postings through the Silo, how to submit our resumes for jobs we’re interested in, feedback they are getting from employers about submitted resumes, and upcoming seminars and forums.
During all of this we were encouraged to share any thoughts, concerns, frustrations, questions, success stories as they related to the discussion. It was casual and relaxed, we laughed a lot.
If nothing else it felt great to talk to someone. Someone who could answer questions, validate our challenges, and give us hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that light is not attached to a train.
Whether I get a job through this forum or not, I won’t complain. Jennifer and Scott were real, they were encouraging but most of all they were respectful. And right now, at this exact moment of my joblessness, my feeling of being useless and used up, my discouragement, and the feeling of being just another statistic…a number…a piece of paper, Jennifer and Scott made me laugh and gave me hope. Something I haven’t felt in a very long time.
What You Need
1.5 lb. Extra lean ground beef
1 pkg. Frozen corn, thawed (About 10 oz.) *Sometimes I use 1/2 corn and 1/2 black beans that are rinsed
1 pkg. Taco Seasoning Mix
10 Cups Torn romaine lettuce
2 large Tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
5 Green onions sliced
1/2 cup Mexican Style Finely Shredded Cheese
1/2 cup Hidden Valley Southwest Chipolte
BROWN meat in large skillet; drain. Add seasoning mix; prepare as directed on package.
PLACE lettuce on large serving platter. (Or, divide evenly among four salad plates.)
TOP with the taco meat, corn, tomatoes, cheese and onions
DRIZZLE with dressing