Houses of worship in Tennessee help with job searches

Associated Press • Nov 17, 2012 at 11:31 AM

NAHSVILLE -- With the recent recession, houses of worship in Middle Tennessee are offering more career counseling.

The Nashville Ledger (http://bit.ly/ZCb71Y) reports that some of those offering services include West End United Methodist Church, Brentwood United Methodist Church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Jewish Family Services.

Each one takes a different approach to helping job seekers.

The program at Brentwood offers classes in using the Internet and social media to look for work. The West End United Methodist Church offers tips on resume writing and networking. Mt. Zion Baptist Church hosts a job fair every year. Jewish Family Services helps job seekers get their resumes to potential employers.

Mark Witzl, who found a job through the Brentwood program, said the programs provide comfort and support in addition to new skills.

"Attendees introduce themselves to others, swap business cards and catch-up with other job seekers, asking about their progress and sharing tips and ideas about looking for employment," he said. "This part was always humbling and helped to remind me that no matter how I was feeling, there were others sharing similar feelings and hope."

Volunteer Hal Hassall, who teaches networking at Brentwood United Methodist, said the program is different from others.

"It's a safe environment where everyone's sensitive to career change. It's not employers and interviewees; it's fellow travelers. That may be one of the reasons for our longevity," he said.

The annual Mt. Zion Baptist Church job fair drew more than 500 job seekers this year.

"It is always amazing to see thousands of chairs removed from the sanctuary to allow space for 103 vendors to use their creativity in designing their personal booth space," Mt. Zion volunteer Jacqueline Rowe said in a statement. "It's too early to tell if anyone from the Expo has been hired."

Jewish Family Services started its program in 2009 after having more people seek help due to the downturned economy. The organization has put together a network of about 30 business owners and business leaders who can pass resumes to colleagues or associates seeking new employees.

"That's probably the hardest part is getting your resume in front of somebody. We can make that first step for people," Director Pam Kelner said.

Some of those who volunteer can attest to the value of the programs.

Hassall said he found employment in the 90s after learning how to network through the Brentwood program.

"I became a student and then a teacher," he said.


Information from: The Nashville Ledger, http://www.nashvilleledger.com

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