25th Annual Call-In Offers Help For Unemployed

CHICAGO (CBS) – With so many people looking for work, it may seem impossible to set yourself apart from the rest.

But according to Chicago’s Challenger, Gray & Christmas, there are ways to do it. The firm is offering job-search counseling free of charge to anyone who needs it, CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports.

As soon as the phone lines opened Monday morning, people looking for a leg up in the job market started calling. Perry Ditore was just one of the job-search coaches trying to get them on the right track.

He says many are surprised by how much the job market has changed, and how old-fashioned face-to-face networking has become the best way to find out what’s really out there.

“If they spend 90 percent of their time networking, that’s where the ‘hidden’ job market is,” Ditore said. “That’s where 80 percent of the jobs are.”

Also, the Internet’s not the job source it used to be.

“Unless you are a perfect fit for an online job position, something’s that out there on the Internet, you’re just going into like the pool of a million people. It’s crazy,” another job-search coach, Maralyn Meshenberg, said.

The job coaches say in this tough market knowing yourself and what you have to offer is the key to getting hired.

“You have to be able to tell them what you bring to the table,” Meshenberg said.

The coaches say the easiest way to do that is identify your strengths and skills, then figure out which are transferable to the job you’re seeking and — more importantly — how they can help your prospective employer. Practice saying it out loud in 30 seconds or less.

“You’re marketing yourself, absolutely,” Ditore said. “So what does your brand look like?”

This is the 25th year Challenger, Gray and Christmas has offered the free job search advice.  The phone lines will be open again Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The number is (312) 422-5010.

 New this year is are dedicated lines for military personnel for veterans, reservists and service men and women approaching the end of their service period.

More from  Pat Cassidy
  • Jean SmilingCoyote

    In his book “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the importance of “weak ties” – acquaintances, as opposed to friends and relatives – in linking people to jobs. But it’s a problem for people who don’t already have such links to opportunities they seek. Unemployment, also, constricts your social life and robs you of money for local travel. It’s hard to run in the right circles when you can’t afford new shoes. There is also what may be a growing problem of people on the other end of a person’s “weak ties” who could possibly be very helpful in the job search, but are too busy being rich snobs to ask around on behalf of their impoverished acquaintances. I know perfectly well what I could offer an employer or customer, but nearly all the “weak ties” I can work are through news stories where I see an opportunity to contribute but which don’t include a “help wanted” mention.

    • Donna

      Amen! You are so right Jean SmilingCoyote.

  • bob

    Sorry to say this is a worthless article except for the phone number.

    If dumping your resume into a pool of thousands of resumes for job openings at internet posted jobs is a waste of time, then how is someone supposed to get the opportunity to talk to an HR person to give their 30 seconds of what they have to offer that everyone else doesn’t?

    Companies want electronic resumes so they can search them and exclude those layed off. HR people have the mindset there’s a reason you got layed off. They don’t care your company closed or your group got outsourced to India.

    In addition, networking is a useful thing if you know lots of people and I mean lots. Most layed off people I doubt even know 5 that they could call to check for openings at their companies and with this economy are probably in the same boat with no job openings.

    The story really offers nothing but the phone number to call for help and I’d bet is jammed with those needing assistance.

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