Linda Wolfe, director of Career Development and Placement, faces a challenge. It doesn't faze her.
"What we have learned at Career Moves, our career development center at JVS Chicago, is that clients don't know what they didn't know until after they have attended our workshops," she said over Monday morning coffee in her Skokie office. "That's as true for kids right out of college as it is for senior-level professionals."
Linda brims with ideas. Her last one was "Getting Older, Getting Hired," a seminar for women returning to the job market that amazingly drew more than 200 people to the Doubletree in Skokie on a Thursday night in the middle of the polar vortex. And all 200 got swag to boot, because Linda and her team managed to line up 23 sponsors!
She has witnessed the very act of job seeking going through a significant paradigm shift.
"Candidates are no longer just employees," she said. "Job seekers are entrepreneurs selling a service in a highly competitive market. An employer has to be convinced to buy what you are selling."
Career Moves serves an eclectic group of clients, running the gamut of almost every demographic. It serves the Jewish community and Chicagoland at large, young and old, blue collar and white collar workers. Yet Wolfe, a spunky, petite veteran of the "Mad Men" culture of advertising before she took on employment services, insists that the questions remain the same for the person looking to be a janitor as they are for the CEO candidate.
"What are you selling? Why should they buy? What is their pain and can you help it? If you can't address those questions," said Wolfe, "you don't get hired. Talent, experience and skills are just not enough. Your competition is likely just as talented as you are, so the question becomes, 'why should I hire you over your competition?' If candidates can't answer this, they will not land the job."
And if candidates don't know what they don't know, it all happens in the dark.
Career Moves' trademark Career Success Equation™ shines a light on the darkness with a strong reflection of Wolfe's advertising and marketing background. It divides the job search process into the manageable parts of Identity, Branding, Marketing and Sales.
"The 'I'll do anything' crowd doesn't get hired today," she said, "so a job seeker can't move on if the question of Career Identity can't be answered. The competition is too fierce."
Career Identity is the required first workshop of Career Moves' Success Series™ and is followed by Branding, which Wolfe describes as "differentiating yourself from the competition and understanding your value."
The marketing section of the Success Equation seems to be the fastest changing, according to Wolfe.
"LinkedIn is not going away, but emailed resumes just might," she said. "If you are invisible on LinkedIn, you probably won't get hired. Networking has come to the fore as the primary way to find a job - some research found that 85 percent of jobs were landed through a personal contact. Naturally we offer a Networking workshop."
Once the link has been made, Wolfe says it's time to sell. To help make the sale, Career Moves educates with workshops in Resume compilation, Cover Letter composing and Interviewing.
"Interviewing is the single most important step in the hiring process," she said. "This is where the job is made or lost. It's getting even trickier with the introduction of video interviewing. Most candidates believe an interview is about them - it's not. It's about the company. If a candidate learns how to turn an interview into a winning conversation, that conversation will turn into an offer."
The Success Series is Career Moves' combination of "the tactical and practical." It's the JVS Chicago method, said Wolfe, of breaking down "a very overwhelming process into doable steps, each with an outcome and a goal."
For more information on career counseling, call 855-INFO-JVS or visit www.jvschicago.org.