Job Networking

For the Disabled: Helpful Inmates

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These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on July 7,

1999. All rights reserved.

Job Seeking for 2000

When the Professional Job Roster shut down last month,

it was the end of an employment epoch in Princeton. Founded in 1968

by faculty wives at Princeton University, the Roster was fueled by

dedicated volunteers, and as everyone knows, dedicated volunteers

are a scarce commodity now.

Also, in the ’90s, the process of hunting for a job got much more

attention than before. Every issue of every magazine, it seemed, had

an article on "How to survive down-sizing." Everybody and

his sister were writing paperback books on job hunting treatise.

Compare this proliferation of career tips to days of yore. The benchmark

"What Color Is Your Parachute" book (the one that preached

"do what you love, the money will follow") was published in

1971. Then, there weren’t that many other good jobhunter books available.

Now, MarketFair’s Barnes & Noble bookstore has no less than 12 full

shelves on the subject — plus six more shelves on such related

subjects as creating a resume and picking a career.

The Internet also contributed to the demise of the Roster, which formerly

attracted dues-paying members with its treasure trove of information

about jobs in hard copy form. Now most of the jobs can be trolled

for on the ‘Net. For free.

But those stories in magazines and those listings in cyberspace lack

one vital ingredient. They cannot make a particular suggestion or

extend a personal hand of support to an individual jobseeker. That’s

where support and networking groups can help. These groups, also,

are run by volunteers, but compared to the Professional Roster they

are less labor intensive, partly because they involve group meetings,

not individual consultation.

Jobseekers was founded in 1982 and meets weekly at Trinity Episcopal

Church on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. That’s every Tuesday, even during

holiday weeks. You can count on at least one volunteer moderator (most

often founder Niels Nielsen) showing up (E-mail: The meetings alternate

between networking activities and workshops, led by volunteers. At

the next meeting, on Tuesday, July 13, U.S. 1’s Barbara Fox

will give the workshop.

On what topic? Fox says she’s going to delve into the U.S. 1 Newspaper

Survival Guide index to find a selection of tips and package it as

"The Best of U.S. 1." For instance, she’s partial to the tips

in Peterson’s "The Ultimate Job Search Survival Guide" by

Paul L. Dyer (Peterson’s, 1998. $14.95). Then there are some

good books by area authors, including "CareerXroads," a compendium

of job-hunters’ websites by Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler,

also at Mark Dorio, an industrial

psychologist who has a consulting firm in Titusville, has written

three guides, including "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting

the Job You Want," published by Macmillan’s Alpha Books. Nick

A. Corcodilos is a headhunter-turned author with a hard-hitting

volume "Ask the Headhunter: reinventing the interview to win the

job" (Plume Books).

Now for some specifics, drawn from Fox’s list of Worst Case Scenarios:

Don’t be pompous about your past. Rip those cherished

but dusty awards from your resume, no matter how much they meant to

you at the time. If you are 40 years old, your employer does not need

to know you were an Eagle Scout or that you were Employee of the Month

10 years ago. Instead, look to the future. "To a manager,"

says Corcodilos, "it doesn’t matter what you know or what you

can do if you aren’t enthusiastic about doing it and motivated to

do it well."

Don’t whine about a changed technical world. If you didn’t

need computer skills before, you do now. Practice your typing every

day. Yes, you can learn keyboarding skills. Then ace those computer

courses. "Invest time in redesigning yourself," says Dorio,

"so that, rather than applying for a job, you market yourself

among the pool of employers who need — who desperately need —

remarkable individuals with great transferable skills."

Do careful research. "You should arrive at an interview

knowing the company upside-down and inside-out," says Steven

Graber , editor of the New Jersey JobBank directory. In CareerXRoads

a recuiter points out that everyone can do the "easy" research

on the Internet but that to get a competitive advantage you should

do some sleuthing to get facts about the company that only an insider

would know — and then drop them into the conversation, cover letter

or interview. (One way to sleuth is to do the company name word search

in the U.S. 1 archives at

Don’t be too rigid when negotiating your salary. Maybe

your expectations are too high for the field you have chosen. Maybe

you were overpaid in your last job. Maybe your future employer likes

to allow leeway for fat raises. Find out. Salary information is out

there, if you look hard enough. As Dyer says, "The job offering

the highest salary may not represent your best deal."

As for the "What Color is Your Parachute" book, it is still

popular and has a new edition every year. MarketFair’s Barnes & Noble

orders this book by the half dozen, and the warehouse has 356 copies

ready to ship. Yes, it’s still very popular. After all, everybody

still wants to be told that — if they do what they love, the money

will follow.

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Job Networking

Jobseekers, 33 Mercer Street, c/o Trinity Church, Princeton

08540. Niels Nielsen, coordinator. 609-924-2277; fax, 609-924-9140.

Home page:

This self-help group is designed to assist persons of any faith or

who are involved in a job search or contemplating a career change.

Volunteer coordinators provide a supportive atmosphere where participants

can explore the possibilities open to them. Meetings are every Tuesday

at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church’s Pierce Hall on Stockton

Street. There is no charge.

Professional Service Alumni Association, 453 B Closter

Road, Box 941, East Brunswick 08816-9998. Jerry Walker, president.

609-655-3804; fax, 609-860-2891.

An incorporated non-profit self-help association of professionals,

membership $50, meetings usually on first Wednesdays at East Brunswick


Professional Service Group Workforce NJ — Division

of Employment and Training, New Jersey Department of Labor, 28 Yard

Avenue, Room 209, Trenton 08625-0954. 609-292-3417; fax, 609-292-6618.

Jessie Breccia, facilitator. Patricia Reed, manager.

A network of unemployed professionals organized under the auspices

of the State Department of Labor who pool their talents in their job

search. The state provides PSG members with free use of computers

complete with Internet hook-ups, facsimiles, telephones, and postage.

New members are required to attend one week of seminars starting with

an orientation usually held on Mondays, followed by workshops on skills

like networking, cover letter/resume writing, telephone use, and interviewing.

After that, members are expected to provide at least three hours of

their time each week to the good of the cause by conducting the seminars,

contacting employers about job leads, or providing office support.

The PSG self-help concept was established in 1989 in New Brunswick

by a group of unemployed professionals who gathered to talk about

the effects of unemployment. The concept flourished and now there

are 12 PSG locations operating throughout the state, including New

Brunswick, 732-418-3304; Westampton, 609-518-0275; Bloomfield, 973-403-1815;

Cherry Hill, 609-489-3680; Dover, 973-361-1034; Hackensack, 201-329-9600;

Morristown, 973-631-6327; Phillipsburg, 908-859-0400; Pleasantville,

609-677-1469; and Vineland, 609-696-6293.

MCCC’s Career Counseling and Job Placement, Student Center,

SC 229, 609-586-4800, extension 3304, E-mail:

Professional career counselors Jack Guarneri and Gail LaFrance offer

a counseling and testing program for $190.

Project Re-Employment, sponsored by the Jewish Family

& Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, offers week-long workshops

for developing job search skills. Ten people in managerial, technical,

or professional fields can attend each of the workshops taught by

specialists from the Department of Labor at the JFCS conference wing,

707 Alexander Road, Suite 102. The program is free but preregistration

is required. The next session is July 12 to 16. Call 609-987-8100.

The Job Club, c/o Princeton Unitarian Church, Cherry Hill

Road, Princeton 08540. Susan and Jack Guarneri, co-facilitators. 609-771-1669;

fax, 609-637-0449.

September to June, seminars on first Mondays at 7:30 p.m., also support

group on second Mondays, free, open to the public. The next date will

be Monday, September 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Central Jersey Job Developers Association, Box 533, New

Brunswick 08903. Dorna Silverman, chair. 732-745-5300 extension 4201.

fax, 732-745-5325.

Client service and professional organization, monthly meetings and

bulletin, annual job fair. Third Thursdays starting in September.

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For the Disabled: Helpful Inmates

As Bart Jackson’s cover story in this week’s issue suggests

(see page 14), the authorities are on the prowl for smarter ways of

meting out punishment. Another program is aimed at making the transition

from prison to the outside world a more productive experience.

The Progressive Center for Independent Living (PCIL) in conjunction

with the New Jersey Department of Corrections has developed the Renovations

for Access and Mobility Program (RAMP), which involves ready-to-be-released

inmates in a home renovation project, to enable homeowners with disabilities

to make their homes fully accessible.

PCIL will assist homeowners with disabilities with the entire home

improvement process, from loan and permit application to final inspection.

The homeowner must pay for materials and labor will be provided at

no cost by ready to be released inmates, closely supervised by Department

of Corrections staff, as part of their vocational skills training.

The inmates will build ramps and renovate consumer’s homes to make

them wheelchair accessible.

PCIL, an independent living center serving people with disabilities

in Mercer and Hunterdon Counties, is modeling this program after a

similar one proven to be successful in Bergen County for the last

five years. Until now work crews of ready-to-be-released inmates

in Mercer County have been doing maintenance and repairs on public

buildings, trash pick up, and grounds work. Besides providing a worthwhile

public service, this program will equip these inmates with skills

they can use in jobs after their release.

Homeowners must obtain appropriate permits, have current homeowners’

insurance, and obtain financing to pay for materials. PCIL will assist

in the entire process. Some banks statewide have set aside loan money

at low interest rates for qualified applicants. The Department of

Corrections will provide a building plan for the consumer to use in

obtaining the building permit. PCIL will also arrange for delivery

of the materials based on the Department of Correction’s plans.

PCIL is a community-based, non-residential, non-profit organization

that represents people with a variety of disabilities. Members, staff,

and volunteers have the training and personal experience to know how

to live independently and are able to offer guidance to individuals

on becoming productive members of the community, or on enhancing their

already independent lifestyle. PCIL offers programs on money management,

transportation issues, cooking, scuba diving, and camping.

In addition to building ramps, RAMPS has ideas for a variety of accessibility

improvements, such as widening doors, adding hand railings, and installing

elevators. Interested homeowners can call the PCIL at 609-530-0006.

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