Archive for the ‘Helping Each Other’ Category

Work It Up: A New Model for Job Groups?

Work It Up logoInitiated in May 2009 by a group of unemployed project managers who met a the Portland, Maine, Career Center’s Unemployed Professionals Group, Work It Up is a nonprofit organization designed to address the “two halves of the broken economy”: unemployed professionals like themselves, and underfunded small businesses, nonprofits, and self-employed individuals.

It does so by matching the skills of unemployed professionals – sometimes after basic training in project management – with the needs of small organizations in the community. The team does an assessment, the client chooses a short-term project, which the team completes. The client merely pays an administrative fee to cover those costs; the professional’s services are free, much like an unpaid internship.

And like an internship, the unemployed worker’s benefits include being productive, having a recent accomplishment to highlight in a resume or an interview, and adding a new reference.

Another approach Work It Up has taken is offering its professional members’ services as a “trial period” to small business that are growing. When the businesses are ready to hire, these workers are more likely to make it to their short lists. Even with no opening, the professionals have new networking connections with executives and hiring managers at the business.

It’s a win-win model, so much so that one of the co-founders has committed to Work It Up full-time. Now that it has formal nonprofit status, it can accept donations and grants, which it will need to move from all-volunteer staff to full-time paid staff for the long term.

Need I say that many participants have gotten jobs? Internships work. The proof is in the results.

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Web Project – and Local TV Coverage – Helps Portland Grandfather Find a Job

The Web project Over 50 and Out of Work has traveled across the country interviewing older unemployed workers for its video project, this month reaching its goal of 100 video stories.

One of those stories was about Rudy Limas, a single grandfather raising his two young grandchildren on his own. A 30-year veteran truck driver, he assumed he would land another job quickly. That was in 2009.

But when Over 50 and Out of Work interviewed Rudy in his home town of Portland, Oregon, the local news station, KATU, included him in its own story on unemployment. From that news coverage, four employers called with job offers. As this KATU video reports, he chose to train as a machine operator at Plastic Metals Technologies in nearby Tigard, Oregon. The owner said he hired Rudy for his experience and reliability, something he found missing in many younger new workers.

Tell Your Story

I’ve just added a new form where you can submit your own recession story to New Hard Times. We’ll review it and let you know when we publish it. You can also check a box telling us you’d like to be interviewed for our story collection, alongside Margi’s, Bianca’s, and mine. The form is always accessible under the More Stories tab, or in the Pages section in the right-hand column. Thank you for participating. We are all in this together.

Job Networks

I spent Wednesday at an all day orientation for S. Professional Network, where I learned enough tips to warrant signing up. Membership is free, but with a commitment of four hours per week, plus weekly general meetings, to keep the all-volunteer network going. They also host workshops. Naturally, all but one participant was over 50.

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Job Tips for Introverts

Just noticed this great subsection of job tips for introverts, by certified career coach Wendy Gelberg, on the info-packed Job-Hunt.org site I just discovered this week. Since I am a certified introvert (not to be confused with shyness or socially deficient), I could have used these tips long ago.

The site also has a whole big section on online job hunting – and not just for beginners. It’s on the top-left side of the home page. Check it out.

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Free Local Computer Repairs

A bonus of posting those RAM chips on Freecycle yesterday was discovering a Sacramento user group called MacNexus, which not only shares techie info but also sponsors monthly free computer repair days. Very cool. I’m going to look into joining – if it’s free (probably not, but maybe I can volunteer). Search online to see if a user group or community college in your area does something similar.

It’s Just a Matter of Scale

It’s a funny feeling to hear someone say she can’t possibly live on $2,000 a month – which used to be my take-home pay when I was working. I had to remind myself that she has a large house to maintain, and two kids and a dog to support, and had just $200 left for the last week of January, which she was counting out in twenties. She was debating whether to spend several of those twenties on another doctor’s visit for a sore that wasn’t healing. At this point she was more than willing to try the salt-water compresses I suggested.

It’s also a funny feeling to hear someone say, at around the same time last month, that she might lose her rent-controlled apartment after 20 years if she can’t scrape up $650 for rent in a week’s time – forget that her computer doesn’t work and so she can’t easily post anything on Craigslist for quick sale. I felt badly that I couldn’t send cash, but I did have a $20 phone card I bought at a 2-for-1 sale, so I mailed one to her.

Then I realized we’re all in the same boat, really. I was counting out the rest of my month’s expense money in dollars, while my “$2,000” friend was counting hers in twenties. and my friend on the edge was counting hers in quarters, nickels, pennies.

Despite the difference in scale, we’re all counting, we’re all downsizing, we’re all having to make terrible trade-offs, we’re all in the same sinking boat.