Looking at the layoffs, downsizing, and the “offshoring” of many companies, it is clear that most organizations don’t use their people as assets, says Ann Rosenblum, who calls herself a life purpose coach. “The world of work has changed so much that people view employees more as liabilities,” she says. One of her goals is to help employees find ways of appearing as assets.

Rosenblum gives a free talk on “Purpose in Being,” which is also the name of her coaching business, on September 16, at 8:30 a.m. at the St. Paul Networking Group at St. Paul’s Church on Nassau Street in Princeton. For more information, call 609-924-1743.

Rosenblum finds that the vulnerabilities of losing a job can focus people to ask themselves what they really want from a career. One of her coaching clients had been laid off from an IT firm. “He was on the fast track, had his career all mapped out, and suddenly got downsized,” she says. “It takes that kind of event to wake people up to look at more reflective, inner questions.”

Her client realized he was passionate about staying in the same industry, even though it was moving further and further into recession. “Through perseverance, social networks, and contacts, he was able to identify an opportunity that would allow him to exercise his entrepreneurial spirit and take on a senior level role,” she says. And he’s still there after two years.

Another client, in her mid-20s, was in a miserable job and in the wrong relationship when she came for coaching. Rosenblum helped her to pinpoint her priorities and to realize that she was passionate about being of service to others. She quit her job and is now in master’s program to become a guidance counselor. “She’s getting straight As and loving it,” says Rosenblum.

Rosenblum’s own professional life could serve as a guidebook to career change, or at least to career adjustment. Born in Baltimore, she moved to New Jersey at 12 when her father took a job as an electronics engineer at Bell Labs. After graduating from the University of Delaware in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in communications, she realized that print journalism meant meager wages and a tough road, and she didn’t want to go into broadcasting because her interest was in writing and interpersonal communication.

Her first job out of college was in fundraising and public relations as an administrative assistant at the Simon Wiesental Center, where she worked on the campaign to raise $35 million for the Museum of Tolerance. When fundraising efforts shifted from New York to Los Angeles, she got a job with a penny stock company by networking with people she had met through the Wiesenthal Center. But after a year, she quit. “I didn’t like selling stock to people who I knew would never see their money again,” she says. “I have better ways of being of service to the world.”

Rosenblum’s next career step involved a wholesale cookie distribution company she started in Connecticut with her then boyfriend. She attributes her entrepreneurial side to her mom who, although she had been a kindergarten teacher before she got married, was a successful real estate agent after the kids left home. When the

relationship with her boyfriend fell apart, she moved back to New York and regrouped, realizing that she belonged in a corporate setting.

She got a temp job in recruiting, which, she says, “combined the skills of building relationships, creating trust, and helping people find the right livelihood.” The job became permanent and a woman at the temp agency became her mentor and taught her all about staffing.

“Fifteen years later, I’m still doing variations on the theme of staffing,” Rosenblum says, but her tack has been a little different over the last five years. In 2000, as she saw the dot.com collapse coming, three difficult personal events occurred in succession in a three-month period — her mother died, a long-term contract ended, and a relationship ended — causing her to take stock and ask, “What do I want in my life? None of this is working.”

Rosenblum went on her own personal journey, discovering tools and resources along the way, and in 2001, the week before September 11, she launched a career/life coaching practice, Purpose in Being. Its goal is to help people find a soulful approach to working for a living — rather than living only to work and get a paycheck.

She quickly had plenty of work, running career transition workshops and programs for Drake Beam Morin, an outplacement career counseling company. Then she worked for two-and-a-half years as a consultant at Bristol-Myers Squibb, first in internal career coaching and then in staffing. More recently she has done staffing work for a finance company in Livingston. While at BMS she got connected with St. Paul’s, where she is holding this workshop.

Rosenblum’s workshops help people to find their life purposes, the idea being to “soul search before you job search.” Using a series of exercises, Rosenblum helps people identify their talents, skills, passions, knowledge, relationships, and their own personal vision for productivity and fulfillment:

Develop a high-level view of what makes you tick. Using Calling Cards, developed by Richard Lieder who runs the Inventure Group in Minneapolis, Rosenblum helps people identify what calls out to them or, as she puts it, “What do you love so much that you lose track of time while doing it?”

Participants go through the 52-card decks and isolate the five cards that best describe who they are and what they would like to contribute to the world.

Decide how much of yourself you are able to express in your current or most recent role. If the answer is none, chances are that you are highly dissatisfied, and may need to find other avenues for contributing your talents.

Use a career inventory to uncover new job possibilities. Rosenblum recommends John Holland’s career inventory system. Holland, who writes on careers, created a career inventory, available for $9.95 on his website, www.self-directed-search.com. He maintains that individuals have certain career preferences based on personality type.

His assessment, which takes about 15 minutes, creates a three-letter code out of six different categories: artistic, social, enterprising, realistic, conventional, and investigator. Out of the six, people usually have strengths in three, and he uses these to recommend occupations.

“Some of it is dated,” says Rosenblum, “and may not reflect all jobs available. But it is a good starting point to try on different ideas you may not have thought of.”

Rosenblum says that after identifying work preferences job seekers need to do more investigation and research, networking, and then informational interviews.

“Talk to people doing those types of jobs,” says Rosenblum. “See if something would appeal to you; learn the pros and cons, and the trends of what is happening in that industry.” And don’t ignore the nonprofit sector, which is frequently overlooked because people think it is low paying.

One of four quotes on Rosenblum’s website is from Dag Hammerskjold, who said, “The longest journey is the journey inward.” Rosenblum has taken that trip, and highly recommends it.

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