City News

St. John's Episcopal helps unemployed

One maxim for today's economic times is that unexpected job loss can happen to anyone. When faced with sudden unemployment, many people find themselves ill-prepared for re-entry into the job market or to cope with the emotional and financial aspects of job loss.

That's where Job Hunters can help. Born out of a large-scale layoff in 1988 by a major Charlotte manufacturer, Job Hunters was established by St. John's Episcopal Church as a support network for downsized workers.

During the past 20 years, volunteer church members have helped shape the program into one of Charlotte's most respected and sought-out networking and support groups for area job-seekers. A free community service offered by the church as one of its ministries, Job Hunters provides assistance to all who seek it, regardless of religious affiliation, and has no religious content or requirement.

David Griffith, principal with Fortune Personnel Consultants of Charlotte, is a church member and has been a Job Hunters volunteer for the past 15 years. He has witnessed first-hand the impact the network has had.

“We help people get organized with their search, providing all newcomers with a resource and referral binder that provides tips and tricks on interviewing, resume preparation, networking and other job-seeking tools.” says Griffith. Many participants have cited the network as instrumental in their transition process, according to Griffith.

The two-hour, Tuesday-evening meetings feature speakers on topics that range from resume and cover-letter writing to conducting effective networking campaigns and managing finances . Newcomers are given a special orientation on the offerings of the network, and returning participants share job leads, network, participate in videotaped mock interviews, have their resumes critiqued and share their experiences to support other network members.

Group size varies, though it's usually between 18 and 25 participants per meeting. Griffith estimated that, during the past 20 years, the network has provided support to more than 10,000 Charlotte-area residents.

Job Hunters meetings let people know that they are not alone . Many find comfort in sharing their experiences with others and often make new friends. Griffith noted that at year-end holiday time, a pot-luck office party is held. Always an extremely popular event, this party allows job seekers to enjoy the company of new friends and be part of a group that is pulling for their success.