Monday, August 29, 2011

Keep Your Job Search Hope Alive with Hiring for Hope

Photos credit - Flickr Common

Are you one of the 30 million Americans looking for work right now? Have you been job hunting for 6 months, 12 months, or longer with little if any hope left? Have you talked to recruiters and applied for so many jobs online that they all run together in your mind now? And, you still don’t have a job or what seems to be any hope in finding one?

Have you in fact said a prayer each night for strength to get through this time in your life? Do you feel powerless and wish someone, anyone, would care about your family and your situation? Hiring for Hope may be one answer to that prayer.

Hiring for Hope is a national 501c3 public charity focused on empowerment for those hit hardest by the recession. They merged with the highly successful JobAngels Network in February 2010 to form a most powerful grassroots network to assist job seekers in getting their lives back.

Hiring for Hope has 50,000 + members, 140 volunteers, and formal employer partnership agreements with many organizations across the U.S. CEO Tegan Acree notes a few of their achievements from a career management perspective since opening their doors in September of 2010:

* Had a hand in putting 2500 people that we know of back to work (Due to the grass roots nature of our organization, some of this can be very challenging to track)

* Through our Career Angels Program, we provided one-on-one career management assistance to nearly 3,000 job seekers on an individual basis by providing them with nearly 12,000 free hours of free career coaching services.

* Launched an online Learning Management System (LMS) called Launchpad Learning Center that houses a library of 100 different career management topics

* Held eight “live career events”

* Provided 75 job seekers in transition with an opportunity to participate in our Volunteers for Hope program to build and enhance their skills, and bridge gaps on their resumes while they were in career transition since September of 2010

* Solidified the support and partnered both informally and formally with nearly 100 different career professionals from organizations across the country including Turner Broadcasting, Home Depot, Scientific Games, Assurant, Hooters, Morgan Stanley, Sun Trust Bank, Lockheed Martin, and Kaiser Permanente just to name a few.

* Established an active following of nearly 45,000 social media members in our LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Voices of Hope social network communities.

BKH: Are your networking resources 100% "free" to those needing help?

TA: Yes. The only cost is time and effort.

BKH: What level of employment does the Hiring for Hope network help with - white collar, blue collar, and executive?

TA: As long as someone is willing to invest the time and effort to help themselves, we will provide assistance and support.

BKH: Does the Hiring for Hope network have participants in all 50 states?

TA: Yes. There are participants in all 50 states and in over 20 countries.

BKH: Which are the top three states for participation?

TA: California, Georgia, and Texas.

BKH: Describe the many types of services available at Hiring for Hope.

TA: Our services for job seekers, couples and their friends and family members are free, confidential and compassionate. We simultaneously provide financial assistance, support and career and family building management services to the people we serve. In the process, we also solve the workforce challenges of employers.

Our Complete Career Management Services include six different free services that focus on one-on-one career coaching, job placement assistance, job skills and development training, the ability to rebuild and expand your network, a way to earn referral fees for helping us get people back to work, and our famous grassroots JobAngels employment networking program.

BKH: Describe the type of volunteer positions available at Hiring for Hope.

TA: As long as someone's primary language is English, they are altruistically motivated, dependable and have their own computer and internet access, a person can volunteer with us from anywhere in the world. Members of our Volunteers for Hope Team get to choose from different flexible opportunities designed to fit a wide range of time commitment and skills. Because we operate our own social network, we have a large number of unique "virtual volunteer opportunities" available in addition to more traditional volunteer roles.

BKH: What are the industries represented by the Hiring for Hope volunteer participants?

TA: Our Volunteers for Hope Team members encompass skills and experiences from a wide range of industries. The majority of them have experienced firsthand one or more of the life events our services are designed to support. Plus, many of us are Human Resources and Operations executives who are experienced in making hiring decisions every day. We are NOT trained medical professionals.

BKH: What level of decision making is represented by the Hiring for Hope volunteer participants - executive, mid-managers and non-managers?

TA: All of the above. Because of the diverse nature of the populations we serve and the services we provide, we attract volunteers from all walks of life, skills levels, industries, religions and ages.

BKH: Does Hiring for Hope have established relationships with major corporations or business associations?

TA: Yes. Through our Career Angels Program, Hiring for Hope has relationships with nearly 100 Human Resources/Talent Acquisition decision makers from organizations across the country. Our Career Angels volunteer their time to help our job seekers on an individual basis.

They also contribute job leads, knowledge and support to our community, as well as take an active role in our various events around the metro area. In some instances, such as with Intuit, they have gone so far as to add the logo of our JobAngels Program on their careers page.

BKH: Does Hiring for Hope have established relationships with government agencies or elected representatives?

TA: No, not at this time.

BKH: What are most people looking for in general that come to your network for help?

TA: Most people are looking for a safe, supportive community of like-minded people and experienced professionals to ease the financial, psychological and financial stress that is common during times of loss and crisis. They are also looking for a way to eliminate their feelings of hopelessness, isolation and shame, and replace them with renewed hope, opportunity and a sense of empowerment to control their destinies.

BKH: What is the average length of unemployment for those that come to the Hiring for Hope network for help right now?

TA: We see new arrivals that have been laid off within days of joining our community, and we see others who are approaching 3+ years of unemployment. During a recent Hiring for Hope event in Atlanta, the average length of time that the attendees had been unemployed was nearly 24 months.

BKH: What are the top three mistakes most job seekers make in looking for employment in today's market?

TA: They have not effectively defined or established a "personal brand."

They have no idea what kind of job they are looking for, and as such no clear strategy for getting employed, or they are unhappy when they do.

They neglect to blend traditional networking strategies with a healthy dose of modern technology. For example, I regularly meet job seekers with hundreds of LinkedIn connections who have never spoken to, or met, the majority of those connections.

BKH: How does the Hiring for Hope network enhance how the unemployed are already networking to find employment?

TA: It broadens how many have traditionally pursued networking in a comfortable, safe, supportive, pay-it-forward environment. Our communities offer exposure to a wide variety of individuals who they would not have been privy to otherwise. Finally, no one is judged, and this is important during a time of personal and professional uncertainty.

BKH: Explain your use of social media to bring people together.

TA: In addition to having nearly 45,000 active members in our mainstream social media properties, we also provide four separate free, safe, informative and supportive online support communities called Voices of Hope. Voices of Hope has a robust selection of easy-to-use web 2.0 tools that link with many of the popular mainstream social media sites, which makes it easier for someone to expand their network, find inspiration and moral support, exchange experiences and share opportunities and resources.

Our members find four main groups to interact with inside our social media communities:

* Like-minded people who have come together to pay-it-forward

* Qualified professionals and individuals who are altruistically helping others

* People seeking the help they need

* Employers and business partners interested in solving today’s unemployment and family building challenges

BKH: How do those that need help or want to help join the Hiring for Hope community?

TA: Start by visiting Hiring for Hope and get to know our organization, our nationwide Volunteers for Hope team of 140 people and each of our social media avenues. Then, simply follow the instructions to join those programs and communities on our website you are interested in.

Or simply learn from the premise of the Hiring for Hope movement and call an unemployed former colleague, take a neighbor to coffee, visit a local community center that helps the unemployed or someone in the family building process. Just try to help one other person in some way each day.

BKH: What is the Hiring for Hope success rate in helping the unemployed find jobs?

TA: This is difficult to track given the “pay-it-forward” nature of the movement, but we do know of more than 2,500 people who have found employment as a direct result of their association with Hiring for Hope.

BKH: Do you have plans to expand the Hiring for Hope mission?

TA: The Hiring for Hope mission will always remain the same. We will continue to find ways to reach and help as many people in need as possible.

BKH: What are the three most significant pieces of advice you have for those looking for employment today?

TA: Resist the temptation to isolate yourself, and remember there are many other individuals who are experiencing the same things as you. Reach out and connect with like minded people.

Surround yourself with supportive individuals and try to help others. You may be surprised how they will return the favor. Avoid promoting or succumbing to a victim mentality. Take control of your circumstances by empowering yourself with knowledge and resources.

BKH: What was your drive in starting Hiring for Hope?

TA: The inspiration for founding Hiring for Hope took root after spending several years as a Human Resources Director laying workers off before finally losing my own position when it was relocated out of state.

At the same time, my husband and I endured five years of fertility treatments, lost three children and then watched helplessly as my nephew Jack was stillborn at 38 weeks gestation. Today, my husband and I now have two healthy children, one of which was the result of an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure that was made financially possible by a grant we received from a pharmaceutical company.

With a lot of effort and a huge support system, we were blessed to overcome and recover from the obstacles we faced. But some folks never recover from theirs. Hiring for Hope is our way of paying forward the kindness and support we received when we were battling our own family building and career transition obstacles.

BKH: Why Does Hiring for Hope exist?

TA: The number of people impacted by career management and family building issues is staggering. See our Statistical Summary Sheet/Incidence Rate Sheet for details. In most states, having no insurance coverage for expenses associated with the family building process, coupled with a double-digit national unemployment rate, has created a situation where the basic American dream of building a family is becoming hard to achieve.

BKH: Explain the Hiring for Hope investment back into the community.

TA: We use our extensive database and social net­works to match the needs of employers with the skills of our job seekers. When we fill a position, we receive a fee from the employer. These fees, combined with funds from business partnerships and national fundraising, make it possible for us to provide all of our free services and to fund our Brave Little Soul Grant Program. The program provides hope and financial assistance to couples who have experienced a loss and/or obstacles to building a family.

We think Flora Edwards got it right when she said, “In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us."

Everything we do at Hiring for Hope is based on the simple concept of paying it forward and helping others. In our community, altruistic behavior is considered cool and is celebrated, heavily promoted and regularly rewarded. The more you contribute to our community, the more it will give in return.

BKH: Thanks, Tegan. See this Hiring for Hope video on YouTube for a complete list of services.

Above all else, Hiring for Hope in a resource for job seekers of people that personally care about their circumstances and want to help them and their family.

As noted on their website, “Have devastating life events outside of your control caused you or a loved one to give up hope, abandon your dreams, and made you feel as though you have lost control over your own destiny? Has all of this caused you to feel trapped, helpless, isolated, hopeless, and/or emotionally and physically exhausted? If you are visiting our web site because you are searching for hope, and a way to reclaim control of your life circumstances, then you have come to the right place.”

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