By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
Austin’s unemployment rate is considered low, but two Four Points residents advise those looking for a new or different job to attend Job Seekers Network.
Under executive director, Craig Foster, JSN is a non-profit organization of experienced and certified job coaches. Their mission is to advise job seekers on resumes, interview skills, social media use, elevator pitches, networking techniques and career fit.
Elaine Pleshek, a product manager who lives in Westminster Glen, has been laid-off four times in her 25-year professional career. She was not surprised by her dismissal in October 2013.
“I like small companies, but they are more risky. When it (the lay-off) happened,” Pleshek recalled, “I felt like I knew the drill. But this time it wasn’t just about looking for a job; it was about what to do in 2014. Job Seekers had the most to offer,” she said.
Ken Loewen, a certified public accountant who lives in Steiner Ranch, was a corporate consultant for a global company when he was laid-off in April 2014. “I was surprised,” he said. “It came with such suddenness and disruption.”
Loewen needed a plan and JSN gave him a framework for action. He said, “JSN helped me focus on things I needed to be doing, particularly as a husband, father and church leader.”
JSN, open to everyone, is a Christian-based organization. Loewen said, “One of the biggest advantages for me was the feeling of fellow believers coming along side to counsel and encourage me.”
Within three months, Loewen landed a position as director of professional services with Advisicon, a company based in the northwestern United States. He and his family will eventually move to Portland, Oregon.
Pleshek’s return to full employment took about 11 months, but it had a surprise and happy ending. She now runs her own company – Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Consulting. She said becoming an entrepreneur was a decision process that would not have occurred without the Job Seeker program, Design and Focus.
Design and Focus is a team-oriented course where participants assess their personality, interests, values, skills, and gifts for a clearer idea of their strengths. They also explore new opportunities and gain focus. (There is a charge for the course.)
Pleshek said, “I thought here is an opportunity to consider my next stage. It was very helpful and I experienced ‘ah ha’ moments.
“I had to write about previous experiences in projects that didn’t work along with those that were successful,” she recalled. “I had to write and think about my values. When you sit down and really prioritize your values – things show up. I found I’m very conscientious about efforts to reduce my carbon footprint.”
From there, and through another JSN resource, Pleshek met with a franchise developer and invested in EES.
“It was the journey that led me here,” she said. “Job Seekers provided me tools and insight to recognize my desire to be an entrepreneur. Then, it provided the network to get me there.”
JSN executive director, Foster, said this is the goal of JSN – to inspire and equip job seekers with a clear plan and tools to make their job search more effective. “We want to help job seekers find a better job faster,” he said.
JSN meets at 9 a.m., Mondays at the Lakeline campus of Hill Country Bible Church. Attendance averages 100. First time visitors are asked to come 20 minutes early for a preliminary meeting with a job coach.
Meetings are free of charge, although there is a donation basket on the sign-in table. For additional information, visit the JSN website at www.job-seekers-network.org.