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Are you LinkedIn at Church?

Part II in a series about job networking opportunities at area churches.

So you're looking for a job. Got your business card ready? Check. LinkedIn profile updated? Check. Resume cleaned-up? Check. Have you been to church? Um, no.

Well then, you may be missing a key component to your job search. Many area churches offer free help to get you focused and directed toward your next career - with no religious strings attached.

In this, part II of Patch's series on the job search, we'll give a look at one local church helping people get back to work. (Read Part I.)

A career reporter and editor, Phil Roura spent most of his 52 year career at the New York Daily News. When his position was phased out recently, he decided to retire, but now he's itching to get back to work.

The problem is, he's never had to look for a job before, which, as he says, "Puts you off a bit." Luckily for him, help was as close as his home parish St. Catharine's of Holmdel, where the parish has been reaching out to the unemployed for 30 years. Soon after Roura stopped work, Deacon Tom DiCanio invited him to a meeting of the employment resource committee. The group helped Roura get organized in his job search.

One of the exercises DiCanio put Roura through was to complete the statement, "I am a person who...." Filling in that blank, over and over again gave him a good picture of himself, Roura said. He was then able to pick three statements to use when describing himself to a potential employer.

Meeting with DiCanio and his group, Roura said, "Gives you hope for finding a job. It energizes you."

DiCanio, who has led the group since 2002, said he stresses the currency of the modern job search is information and he pushes his members to constantly reach out to their network, not to ask for a job, but to ask for ideas about their industry and people they should connect with.

"Apply the network to gather information," he said. "If someone (you call) knows about an opening, they'll tell you."

Attendance at the St. Catharine's group was about 10-12 people about a year ago and is down to about five now. Attendees usually come for two or three sessions in which time DiCanio and the group work together to give each jobless person a game plan and "get them into forward motion." Groups similar to St. Catharine's also meet at Christ Church and St. Mary's, both in Middletown.

Though his ministry is directed at getting people jobs, DiCanio says it's really about caring for the family, which he calls the little church.

"Nothing is more devastating to the family than when the breadwinner loses his job," he said, noting that the stress of such events can cause fissures in a marriage and in relationships with children. "The little things become expanded." 

Group meeting are on the second and fourth Mondays of the month and are open to the community, whether job seekers are church goers or not.

"This is a place people often become energized in their faith, but this is not a forum where we evangelize," DiCanio said. "In life's challenges, that's when the awareness of faith comes, that's where the hope is. And without hope, we have nothing."

Dicanio says that when job seekers come to his group disillusioned and without direction, they will leave with a different outlook knowing, "There is hope. There is a plan."

For more information about St. Catharine's employment resource, contact the church.

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