JSN’s annual ‘Career Connect’ slated for March 27
Austin can be a frustrating place if you are among the unemployed. As a city, Austin is doing extremely well compared to other cities and parts of the country. Texas is regularly at the bottom of the unemployment rate, and Austin tends to remain at the bottom of Texas unemployment.
There are resources out there for help and opportunity. Job fairs, whether specific to an industry or the“open call” types that have a little bit of everything, are running all the time, and can be great sources for finding a job quickly. The key to a successful job search, however, is to find a career opportunity that will be a good fit for the long haul.
That was the motivation for Craig Foster, an executive in Aus- tin’s tech industry who says he’s found his calling helping people to connect with opportunities that match their “God-given wiring and gifting.” Also, his organization would be specific to the Austin market. The result was the Job Seekers Network (JSN), and he has spent his days since helping thousands connect with new opportunities on their career path.
“I’ve been volunteering for job clubs and helping people with their job searches off and on since the early 90s,” Foster said. “When the recession hit in 2008, I felt a calling to start a job club and work full time to help people find jobs by providing encouragement and job search training. I started a job club at a local church, Job Seekers Network.
“JSN grew to be such a large community program, that in 2012 it became an independent nonprofit. We are now the largest job club in Austin and have been called a ‘Top 5 Job Club’ in the U.S. by a national touring career expert. Over the last nine years we’ve helped over 8,000 professional job seekers, and we have an average of 90 professional level job seekers attend our weekly Monday morning free programs.”
On Monday mornings, JSN hosts keynote speakers and helps professionals work on resumes, networking skills, and provides encouragement like most job networking groups. But JSN also works on clarity, direction and finding a good fit for their clients. These Monday morning meetings take place from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at Hill Country Bible Church Austin (Lakeline campus located at 12124 RR 620 N. in Austin).
Additionally, JSN has begun hosting an annual “Career Connect” fair that ramps up the offerings from their normal Monday morning meetings. This year, the Career Connect job fair and keynote will be held from 5:15-8:45 p.m. March 27 at the ACCRUENT HQ offices, Domain Northside (11500 Alterra Parkway, Suite 110, in Austin). The keynote speaker at the event will be Mark McClain, founder/ CEO of Sail Point Tech- nologies (and recently named Austin’s favorite CEO by Glassdoor). The event includes a job fair, networking opportunities and even some snacks along the way.
Following the annual Career Connect fair, JSN will begin a series of “Design & Focus” workshops. They start April 3 and run for four consecutive Tuesday nights, ending April 24. These workshops run 6:30-9:30 p.m. and take place at Great Hills Baptist Church (Building A, 10500 Jollyville Road in Austin). These workshops are open to job seekers as well as those “unhappily employed” or underemployed and focus on finding a person’ s specific fit and calling.
“One of the most important things a job seeker can do in their job search is find their focus and identify their job target,” said Becky Terry, JSN director of training and communication. “Too many times job seekers jump into the search without being clear on what they are seeking or understanding what career would be a good fit for them. This makes nearly all the rest of the job search extra difficult and frustrating, especially resumes and LinkedIn. And recruiters share with us that it’s one of the biggest problems they see in job seekers being ineffective.
“Job seekers must gain clarity by completing self-assessment on their passions, personality, interests, values and skills and then exploring careers that align with those. We offer a career direction/career confidence workshop, Design & Focus, which helps people do just that, and we will be offering a special evening session of the workshop in April, immediately following Career Connect. Through Design & Focus, participants can explore a different career path or confirm they are on the right path.”
Registration for the JSN is available online through their website, as well as specifics on how they operate and how to keep up with the group through social media. Whether through JSN or another employment assistance organization, it is imperative to get out of the house as often as possible while searching.
“A common theme we see is people feeling isolated and alone in the search,” Terry said. “People can feel that they are conducting an aggressive job search by applying to hundreds of jobs online, but we know that only as mall percentage of jobs are actually found online.”
The Career Connect fair on March 27 will be bigger than last year’s event, as the format has proven successful and more companies want to be involved.
“We are expanding the job fair portion of the Career Connect event to give com panies andj ob seekers more time to connect personally,” Foster said. “Extra time also means more networking opportunities. We will have job search coaches available to help job seekers with quick questions or who feel stuck or just need some encouragement as they go through the evening’s activities. We will also refer them to our Monday programs for more practical job search training and inspiration and hope.”
Job Seekers Network is expanding the job fair offerings due to the response to last year’s event.
Attending job fairs and meet-up groups helps create networking opportunities and direct access to potential employers.