Wednesday, November 03, 2010

story about efforts to help unemployed in Nov, 2010 issue of Hudson Independent

Supervisor Helps Job Seekers
Unemployment Rate in Westchester Drops Slightly
by Robert Kimmel | November 1 2010
While it is little to crow about, Westchester County can boast of an unemployment rate that is showing slight improvement, and is about three percent less than the last announced national average of 9.6%.
However, finding a job in the county, when job growth is virtually negligible, is no less challenging than getting work in many other regions across the nation.
That is why Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner felt a sense of achievement when an email from a young man recently reached his desk declaring that, “I have got a job. I appreciate what you have done in assisting me during my time of unemployment.”
“I wrote numerous letters for him, and met with him a few times,” Feiner said in describing how he had aided the man, who happens to be disabled.
The supervisor has made helping the unemployed something of a crusade over the past two years. “I started an informal job club and I maintain an email list of people out of work, and share job opportunities with them almost daily,” he said.
Another recently employed young man messaged, “I just wanted to thank you, as I was fortunate enough to obtain a position as a management trainee, a position that I learned of through one of your email listings.”
“I landed a job as a call center manager, and at the same time I can now help others who may be looking for work,” wrote another man who thanked Feiner for “all your support and email updates on jobs.”
Feiner posts job openings on a site, “Greenburgh jobs group,” and on his Facebook page.
“It has become like a hobby and I spend an awful lot of time on it, evenings and weekends,” he said. “Basically, I ask residents for advice, if they know of any job openings.”
About 50 people have found employment because of his activities, according to Feiner. But almost as important as finding jobs, Feiner said, “is letting people who are stressed out know someone is thinking about them, and keep them motivated in their job search.”
He has also sponsored meetings for the unemployed, such as a recent session during which Irvington resident Paul Lewis advised the more than 100 people attending on how to create their own jobs by starting a business. A former math teacher, Lewis began a consulting business, “Start Me Up,” this year after discovering his own passion for developing enterprises. He emphasized the importance of a good business plan and having the appropriate financial support before making a leap into a small business.
Planning is also a key element in finding employment, according to Irene Kleinsinger, a Tarrytown woman who founded Careers Plus, “ Job Search Success Group, which she said is “modeled after highly successful peak performance teams in corporations.
Kleinsinger said between 75 to 80 percent of jobs are found through word of mouth and that networking is an important factor in job hunting.
“Helping individuals overcome many of the obstacles presented by a job search,” is one aim of her group. Among those obstacles, she said, are “lack of an office structure, distractions at home and the absence of peers. “The Group keeps people on track and offers an opportunity for peer interaction, accountability, continuity and an infusion of fresh ideas,” she noted.
“A proactive job search requires an organized plan, a strong resume, time management, effective networking and interview preparations,” Kleinsinger explained.
There are numerous resources online for those in quest of a job. Some are faith-based but not restricted to one’s religious affiliation. Many operate nationally. Crossroads Career Network, a Christian non-profit, assists with job search and career transition help. is another church-affiliated operation that involves local churches. Jewish Vocational Services provides help, “particularly those with barriers to employment,” with a variety of resources. Catholic Charities offers employment worldwide. (The web addresses and contact information for many of these organizations as well as other avenues for those seeking work or who need assistance in their pursuit of employment are listed elsewhere on this page.)
Westchester saw its most recent September unemployment rate of 6.9 percent, an improvement over the peak of 7.8 percent reached in February of this year. But even that improvement is a far cry from what the county has experienced in better economic times such as in November, 1999 when unemployment stood at only 3 percent.
Now, as the economy stumbles along,, almost 15 million people in the nation are out of work. The Bureau of Labor Statistic releases the much anticipated October figures early this month and perhaps they will offer a glimmer of improvement. But as Kleinsinger described it for the job seekers, “It’s tough out there.”