EaRN Works With Those Needing Support Finding a Career, Updating Job Skills

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

EaRN 235Fletcher Cochran is the executive director of the Employment and Resource Network and Ken Soper is its founder and Master Career Counselor.Thankfully, the Great Recession is in the rearview mirror of history. But there is still work to be done for those who want to learn how to remain employable, are searching for a new career, or need to know how to find work, say the founder and executive director of the nondenominational ministry, Employment and Resource Network (EaRN).

"Unemployment is very low, but that doesn't tell the whole story," said Fletcher Cochran, executive director of EaRN. "We still have people in transition who want to identify the vocation that is right for them and develop search plans."

EaRN offers at no cost a plethora of services for people who need help honing the requisite knowledge needed to attract potential employers. They include:

• NetWork 2 NewWork. Believing relationships are rungs on the ladder to success, these bi-monthly events (January, March, May, July, September and November) include presentations by those who offer information on the basics of networking, as well as how to use social media, job interviewing tips, work with recruiters, and find opportunities for informational interviews. For meeting times and locations, visit www.network2newwork.org or www.earn-network.org/events.

"More people get jobs this way than any other way," said Cochran.

"And the church is one of the locally-rooted, most powerful networks that exist," added Soper. "It's about helping people not just find a job but a vocation. The root of the word 'vocation' is in the Latin and Greek and it's the idea that it's a calling. Churches can help people share how God has been faithful to them."

• Work Search Roundtables. Provides support, group problem solving, and coaching for individuals during periods of work search and career transition. Currently two groups meet at the following days and locations: Wednesdays, every other week, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at St Robert of Newminster Parish, 6477 Ada Dr. SE, in Ada. Visit the church's website at http://www.strobertchurch.org/ or call (616) 676-9111. Roundtables also are offered Thursdays every week from 9-11:30 a.m., at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Grand Rapids, 47 Jefferson Ave. SE. RSVP at www.grnow.com, click on the calendar date, then the event, and using the "RSVP" function at the bottom of the screen. More information is available by calling (616) 459-1456, or at Westminster's website, http://westminstergr.org/.

Filling a hole

"When a person is out of work, there's a big hole in their lives, so at least a couple of weeks, the roundtables serve as emotional buoyancy," said Cochran.

"They need some place that's safe," added Soper. "Roundtables play that kind of role."

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"One on one coaching could be for those who may have something on their record that is a concern and need to know how to present themselves," said Ken Soper, founder of EaRN who is a National Certified Counselor, National Certified Career Counselor and Master Career Counselor.

• EaRN's other services include career planning, vocational discovery, finding work and staying employable, secrets to job applications and insider tips to online job applications, writing persuasive cover letters and resumes and effective communication during interviews.

"We're not geared to a time frame," said Cochran. "We'll work with people as long as we need to."

Both Cochran and Soper advise people who currently have a job to stay close to reality. They cite the acronym TOYASE as a prime example: Think Of Yourself As Self Employed.

Employees may not think of themselves as self employed, but the majority of businesses are "at-will" employers, meaning they can fire their staff for any reason or without needing to give a reason.

Such an understanding means it's wise for people who are working to keep their resumes and job skills up-to-date and do some casual networking to keep abreast of potential new employment opportunities. Gen Y, or millenials, born between 1980-2001 (69.7 million), understand this employment trend very well.

"We have to face this reality that we'll be looking for work more frequently," said Soper. "Millenials see what has happened to their parents and grandparents and know it could happen to them."

Realizing you're an at-will employee can work in his/her favor, added Soper.

"Employees benefit when their focus is to deliver value to their employer every day," he said.

"And you have more focused, more valued employees," added Cochran. "The key is to keep learning how to handle a situation better."

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www.earn-network.org
Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
About:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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