Corporate Angels

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This article was prepared for the January 16, 2002 edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Downsizings Hit Young Workers and Executives Alike

Unemployment is up along the Route 1 corridor, and it

is bringing desperation to the under-skilled and the over-skilled

alike. Rachel Weitzenkorn is coordinator of Project Re-employment,

a service of Jewish Family and Children’s Services that is open to

everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. "People come into

my office and they are so depressed, so discouraged," she says.

The next session of Project Re-Employment, which exists to get these

displaced workers back to work, begins on Wednesday, January 30, at

9:30 a.m. at the agency’s offices at 707 Alexander Road. There is

no charge, but attendees are required to attend all four sessions.

The other three take place on Thursday, January 31, and on Wednesday

and Thursday, February 6 and 7. Call 609-987-8100.

"There are definitely more inquiries," Weitzenkorn says.

"We

see as many as 25 people in Project Re-Employment, and I also see

people individually. Those inquiries definitely have risen a lot.

A lot of local businesses are downsizing."

Weitzenkorn is seeing people at both ends of the age and income

spectrum.

Younger people — in their 20s and 30s — who have never

completed

college are finding it difficult to land jobs. Many worked for 10

or more years, lost a job, and are finding that employers now consider

a four-year degree a baseline requirement.

The other group turning up at Weitzenkorn’s office are executives

in their 50s. During the past year, many have been from the financial

industry, and especially from banking. "They were vice

presidents,"

says Weitzenkorn. "When banks merge, they only need so many vice

presidents." Re-entry into banking does not appear feasible for

many as the industry continues to shrink.

The misery is compounded for a number of former bankers, who are on

their second, or third, or fourth lay-off. "They have been laid

off again, and again," says Weitzenkorn, "and at a high

salary.

A lot come in pretty frustrated, and depressed."

Prospective employers see 20-plus years experience on these resumes,

Weitzenkorn says, and their immediate reaction is: "We can’t

afford

these people."

Ph.D.s, laid off from pharmaceuticals, have a similar problem. Like

experience, a high salary, or a lofty job title, the credential

triggers

too many dollar signs in the eyes of would-be employers. Highly

qualified

candidates, says Weitzenkorn, are being passed over without a good

look.

The result for scores of families in our area is a soul deep

depression.

After one too many lay-offs, there is little will to even look for

another job, to risk yet another pink slip. "They just want to

sleep," Weitzenkorn says of these discouraged job seekers.

Project Re-Employment exists to help. It brings in personnel experts

from the state’s Labor Department, who teach networking skills and

have contacts with local employers, representatives from credit

counseling

services to help individuals plot near-term economic survival, and

other job search experts.

After a little over a year as the program’s coordinator, Weitzenkorn,

who holds an MSW from Rutgers and a bachelor’s degree from Boston

University (Class of 1999), has some advice to pass along.

Put on a happy face. By the time unemployed individuals

reach out to her agency, many are about as low as they can go. This

attitude comes through in interviews, and can sabotage opportunities.

She knows it isn’t easy, but Weitzenkorn says it is essential to do

everything possible to stay up-beat.

Regular exercise, contact with supportive friends, time out for

enjoyable

leisure activities, and a set daily routine all are important. Joining

a job hunters support group is helpful too.

Get more education. This advice is for job seekers with

little education beyond a high school degree. Obtaining a four-year

degree is hard, especially for anyone with a family. Weiztenkorn

suggests

community college programs as an alternative, a way to learn

high-demand

skills that can translate quickly into a good job.

Consider a career change. High-level jobs in some

industries

— banking, for instance — are not going to appear in great

abundance any time soon. Downsized executives in this, and other

industries

undergoing consolidation, may need to assess their transferable

skills,

re-package themselves, and switch to another career track.

Write a functional resume. Putting "20 years as

executive

vice president of XYZ Corp." at the top of a resume is no longer

a great idea in many industries. Instead of years in a particular

position, create a resume around core skills.

Don’t pay a lot for help in finding a job. "Don’t

pay $4,000 for information you can get free," says Weitzenkorn.

Databases, publications, and counseling all are available at no

charge.

Paying job search agencies a large fee does not guarantee a job,

Weitzenkorn

says. Relentless networking generally is a better bet. In her opinion,

"You could be better off talking to people in the grocery

store."

Consider teaching. Right now, schools at all levels are

looking for teachers, Weitzenkorn says. Executives with years of

experience

in science or technology often are welcome on campus. "You won’t

earn six figures," she says, "but the work can be more

rewarding."

For those who are just looking for a way to earn a little cash while

continuing a job hunt, she suggests substitute teaching as a good

part-time job.

Go it alone. Weiztenkorn is seeing executives who have

had it with the trauma of serial lay-offs, and are looking to gain

control of their destinies by starting a business. This can be a good

move, she says, but it needs to be carefully plotted.

The job outlook along the Route 1 corridor has been rosier,

but employers and placement agencies are telling Weiztenkorn there

are opportunities out there. The key thing employers are looking for?

"The right skills," she says. "And flexibility."

Willingness

to bend on everything from salary to hours to travel requirements

are in, at least until the economy turns up again. What’s more, those

claiming new jobs in an atmosphere of downsizing will have to be

willing

to take on the extra work that comes with all those empty desks.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

Joseph Taylor, CEO of the Matrix Development Group

of Cranbury, and his wife Leslie Taylor, along with the Matrix

Foundation,

raised over $1.2 million for the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The

Award of Hope Gala was the event through which the money was raised.

This year’s gala raised 50 percent more than was raised through last

year’s event.

The gala was co-hosted by Frank Van Grofski, executive vice president,

retired, of PNC Bank, and Richard F.X. Johnson, senior vice

president of development, Matrix Development Group, and Maureen

Johnson.

The Taylors began working for the Cancer Institute seven years ago

when they co-sponsored a pro-am golf event at Forsgate Country Club

that attracted thousands of attendees and began building community

awareness of the Cancer Institute. Since that time, with the support

of the Matrix Foundation, they have worked to increase financial

support

for the institute and to bring the public information about the

medical

resources offered by the institute.

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the only National Cancer

Institute-designated

cancer center in New Jersey, was created to improve the prevention,

detection, treatment, and care of patients with cancer through the

transformation of laboratory discoveries into clinical practice.

A number of area businesses are providing support for the Winter

Ball, the annual benefit of the Friends of the Princeton University

Art Museum. Taking place on Saturday, February 2, the event raises

money for educational outreach initiatives in the museum’s new

department

of education and academic programs. Among major supporters are

Deracom

Conference Call Services, American Re-Insurance Company ,

Bloomberg,

Bristol-Myers Squibb, Fleet Bank, Johnson & Johnson, and

PNC Advisors.

The employees of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus, a law firm

with offices in Bridgewater, have raised $812 for the Susan G. Komen

Breast Cancer Foundation through a Denim dressdown day. The firm has

pledged to take part in four more drressdown events this year. It

participated in Lee National Denim Day on October, and on that

occasion

raised $580.

For more information on Denim Day, call 800-521-5533 or visit

www.denimday.com

Yardville National Bank’s Community Division will be

honored

as "Organization of the Year" by Community Options on Friday,

February 1, at its annual awards dinner at the Hyatt Princeton.

Community Options, with offices on 16 Farber Road, is a national

non-profit

providing residential and employment support to people with

disabilities.

Housing assistance provides support to these individuals as they move

from institutions into the community. Employment programs focus on

placing individuals in competitive jobs or community volunteer

programs.

Yardville Bank has helped the organization meet its goals by finding

quality employment and housing for its clients.

Princeton University and the Van Alen Institute

contributed $8,700 to print 20,000 copies of the map of the site of

the World Trade Center. Laura Kurgan, an architect who teaches at

the Princeton University School of Architecture, designed the map,

called "Around Ground Zero." Its purpose is to help visitors

find their way into an area that defies easy access. Kurgan has been

quoted as saying, "People are extremely disoriented. They have

no idea what they are looking at."

Kurgan worked with architects, designers, researchers, and students,

all of whom donated their time. It took about a month to produce the

map, which highlights an area from Duane Street to Bowling Green at

the tip of Manhattan.

Along with streets and public transportation routes, the map shows

the locations of unobstructed sight lines, impromptu memorials, and

the new viewing platform. The severity of building damage is marked

by colored stars. The flip side has an aerial photograph of the site.

Kurgan herself has been passing the maps out to visitors.

Van Note-Harvey Associates, an environmental engineering

firm with offices at 777 Alexander Road, support several Mercer County

Head Start day care centers. Principals Don Fetzer and Dick Wizerman,

along with their employees, provided toys, food, and clothing to

children

at three of these day care centers.

Sherry Bachman, director of corporate administration, and other

employees,

delivered the gifts.

The Karma Foundation, established in 1996 by Sharon

Karmazin,

a retired public library director, has awarded 21 grants of $5,000

— to be distributed over two years — to libraries, including

the Monroe Township Library, and the East Brunswick Library. These

Karma Foundation Tipping Grants challenge libraries to demonstrate

how a small amount of money can make a big difference.

The Monroe Township Library will use its grant to develop marketing

plans to identify the library needs of families in the township. The

East Brunswick Library will use its grant to produce 11 decorative

quilts that will hang on a 40-foot wall in biography area of the youth

services department as a permanent visual displa


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