By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Deacon David Taylor of St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake offers congregants and community members his services as they search for work in these tough economic times.
“I’ve always wanted to do a ministry to help people,” Taylor said.
Taylor has a background in management, having been a project manager for Conoco Phillips Oil for seven years, and a county manager for Pierce County, WA, where he supervised 38 employees.
Due to the large number of area residents who were either laid off or unemployed during the recession, Taylor began Carpenter’s Network last fall.
When Carpenter’s Network first began, weekly sessions were conducted at the church for people needing help in their job search efforts. The Network provided advice, resumé examples, encouragement, and prayers to find work.
Throughout the fall and early winter, about 15 people attended the program. Others were offered advice and help by phone.
“The difference between us and other programs for job seekers,” Taylor said, “is that we will pray.”
He recommends starting each day in prayer, thanking God for the blessings of the day, and asking to find meaningful work, noting that repeated prayers, having others pray for you, and especially prayer in groups are very powerful.
When attendance at the Carpenter’s Network weekly sessions tapered off, it was decided the program would be offered by appointment to those still seeking employment and needing assistance.
The program and materials provided to congregants and community members are offered at no cost to those who seek assistance.
Taylor’s tips for finding employment
When filling out a resume or applying for a job, Taylor advises people to think like a boss, not like an applicant, asking oneself, “What is it that the company needs?”
Stress job skills on a resumé and in an interview that can be transferable from job to job, such as computer or sales skills.
Taylor also stresses the importance of finding something that makes an applicant stand out over the other applicants.
“Wear a shirt and tie. This gives the message, ‘I mean business and sincerely want to work for you.’ Dress better than your competition,” Taylor said.
Regardless of the job one is seeking, men need to arrive in at least a dress shirt and tie, and women need to dress professionally and modestly, Taylor said.
Job seekers should not date themselves by placing photos, or graduation dates, on resumés.
Older job seekers, especially those closer to retirement, are having the most difficulty finding a position in today’s job market, Taylor said.
They should not set themselves at a disadvantage right away by aging themselves in their resumé.
Taylor encourages job seekers to use the old method of “shoe leather” when looking for work, as a face-to-face meeting with someone stands out more than simply submitting an application or resumé online.
Because most managers are “time urgent,” when a job seeker lands an interview, they should arrive to the interview at least 10 minutes early, according to Taylor.
He recommends that when job seekers first meeting an interviewer, extend a firm handshake, saying, “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you,” or something similar. This starts the interview off on a positive note, Taylor said.
He said applicants should sit up straight, with chin up and shoulders back, while still looking comfortable. Taylor encourages job seekers to practice this skill if need be.
During the interview, an applicant should make eye contact at least 50 percent of the time.
When the interview is over, an applicant should thank the interviewer for the interview, saying it was a pleasure to meet the interviewer. Once again, this ends the interview on a positive note.
Even if a job seeker is not offered a job they interviewed for, they should be sure to send a professional “thank you” note.
Taylor recommends that all job seekers take some type of self-assessment test to find a position that suits them well.
“If you write down a list of 10 successes and 10 failures, you will see a pattern. For instance, either you like to be with people, or you don’t like to be with people. Concentrate on jobs that follow the trend of your successes,” Taylor advises.
He also recommends taking self-assessment tests such as the Kuder Skills Assessment test, which are designed to find one’s real skills, as opposed to what one wants the test to say.
“If you do what you love, you will be happy, and you’ll always make money,” Taylor said.
An important part of Carpenter’s Network the encouragement it offers to job seekers who may be frustrated in today’s economy.
“This can be hard on people, especially if they feel they are about to get the job, and the next person gets it,” Taylor said.
Carpenter’s Network provides a place where job seekers can vent those frustrations, find ways to bypass obstacles, and gain a supportive source of encouragement and prayer.
“The key is encouragement, not to give up,” Taylor said. “The true valor in life is ‘keep on keeping on,’ getting up each day, and going out with a smile.”
To set up an appointment with Deacon Taylor, call St. James at (320) 543-2766, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.