June 24, 2016
Anyone currently out of work or looking for a job can tell you that job-searching is tough. While unemployment levels are not as dire as they were during the depths of the recession, many people are still struggling to find work that is both satisfying and sufficient for their material needs. Furthermore, employers who are committed to their faith may find it challenging to integrate their spirituality and desire for service with their professional lives. Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, has stepped up to aid both job seekers and employers through its parish community.
Though Presentation is located in an affluent neighborhood, it draws widely from almost eighty nearby zip codes and its parishioners span a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Young adults and older professionals alike may greatly benefit from support and practical advice. As a result, several parishioners who are trained in the profession area of Human Resources volunteer their time and skills to run the “Career Management Group,” which meets monthly at the parish and is open to all. There, job seekers can benefit from resume building, application feedback, interview coaching, and mentors. As the parish website describes it, “The focus of this ministry is to lend a sympathetic ear and provide practical assistance with resumes, interviewing skills and job hunting techniques.” This ministry provides a vital and free service to many vulnerable community members who may not have the means or availability to seek out paid coaches or programs, which can be prohibitively expensive, especially for the unemployed.
Additionally, Church of the Presentation and the Career Management Group maintain a parishioner-to-parishioner resume bank, which is managed by a parish staff member and featured as a link on the parish website’s homepage. Anyone interested in having his or her resume on file, whether actively looking or simply interested in new opportunities, can submit it to the bank. Employers are encouraged to consult the resume bank to see whether any parishioners might be a good fit for positions to be filled. The hope is, explained pastor Fr. Bob Stagg, “If people in the parish are hiring, they might come here first to look.”
And, in fact, some parishioners are taking advantage of the resume bank when they are looking to hire. Fr. Stagg reports that those in the parish with job openings regularly reach out to him or his staff to ask for resumes, and some result in successful hires. “We’re pleased with it,” said Fr. Stagg. Presentation’s Career Management Group is an excellent example of gifts and talents present in the parish – even those that might not typically be associated with ministry – being used to serve their brothers and sisters in the community. And, for someone struggling to find work or satisfying employment, such an opportunity can be life-changing.
By: Katherine Brown, Los Angeles, CA