JSN’s an­nual ‘Ca­reer Con­nect’ slated for March 27

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - HOMES/JOBS/CLASSIFIEDS - By David Wil­fong STATES­MAN CON­TENT MAR­KET­ING

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.”

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Job Seek­ers Net­work is ex­pand­ing the job fair of­fer­ings due to the re­sponse to last year’s event.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

At­tend­ing job fairs and meet-up groups helps create net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and di­rect ac­cess to po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers.

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