It is not easy finding a job these days, particularly when the national unemployment rate hovers at 8.3 percent and it seems the economy is growing at a slower rate each month.
But there are positive pockets of help out there for job seekers such as Deerfield’s free Career Renewal Program. This volunteer package is designed to help unemployed individuals assess past job experiences and point them towards successful, well-paying future opportunities.
Career Renewal was established in 1986 by two local churches, Holy Cross Catholic Church and St. Gregory's Episcopal Church, which continue to co-sponsor the program. Co-Chair Woody Lovacheff represents St. Gregory’s and his fellow chairman Dan Kremzar represents Holy Cross.
Motivation for forming the group initially came from several health care workers who banded together in tough times to help one another during an impending local health facility downsizing.
The cooperative program continues to fill a need today. More than 100 people from the greater Chicago area are involved, consisting of both job seekers and experienced volunteer career guidance advisors. They meet on the third Sunday morning of every other month at Holy. Walk-in candidates are welcome at 10 a.m.
The program is free to participants. It consists of matching up experienced career advisors with those seeking new job opportunities. Each holds its own meeting. Then the two groups join together for a motivational or instructive speaker who usually advises on effective job preparation practices and sharing personal interview techniques.
Advisors then pair up with their pre-assigned (or newly assigned) job seekers for get-acquainted chats, one-on-one resume reviews, instructing on interview techniques, and other helpful ways a job seeker can present themselves in a positive way to a prospective employer.
The service is designed to assist and support those who are unemployed or perhaps re-entering the job market after a significant absence, Lovacheff said. Advisors often follow up with personal meetings, phone calls and e-mail between general meetings.
Job placement leads received by the organization are aggregated by one of the guidance advisors, who in turn disseminate these leads to an advisor who happens to be working with a qualified candidate.
“We are not a networking group per se, or even a job placement service,” Lovacheff said. “Rather, we are more of a candidate coaching organization, pairing job seekers with career counselors to provide helpful advice and satisfying employment for the candidate.”
“We started with a vision of providing mentoring to those who needed help in finding suitable career employment opportunities,” Ron Moskal, an independent human resources search consultant and founding president of the group, said. “That need continues more than ever today.”
More information on the program can be obtained by contacting either Woody Lovacheff at 1-847-948-8083, Dan Kremzar at 1-800-224-345-0033, or either Holy Cross or St. Gregory’s Churches.