Educated woman WLTM the boss of my dreams

At Jobcare’s Network to Getwork event, unemployed, highly skilled professionals can ‘speed date’ with potential employers

Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 01:00

In the old Labour Exchange Building on Gardiner Street, Jobnet facilitator John Paul Smith gathers a crowd of people around him.

“Who’s feeling excited?” he asks.

Some hands shoot up.

“Who’s feeling not so excited?” he asks.

A few more hands shoot up.

“Who’s feeling anxious?” he asks.

Even more hands shoot up.

Participants in Jobcare’s Network to Getwork event vary in age, gender and nationality but all wear white name badges, all are unemployed or underemployed professionals enrolled in a seven-week Jobnet programme, and all are here to network with prospective employers in an event that’s been likened to speed dating.

Their potential “dates” are, as Smith speaks, gathered upstairs in the Exchange’s main hall mingling around high tables, wearing yellow name badges. At one end of the room a screen displays the names of Jobcare’s industry partners. On the other sits a long table with coffee, tea and pastries. Pinned to the east wall are profiles of all the participants. Each laminated page has a photo, an outline of a CV and a pithy ‘elevator pitch’: “Pressure makes diamonds” reads one. Occasionally a “yellow badge” comes over, peruses the wall of profiles and take a photograph using a smart-phone.

While the businesses mingle, the participants wait downstairs. “Then we bring them up,” says facilitator Peter Johnson. “Like debutants!” !” Jobcare is celebrating its 20th birthday this year (it was cofounded in 1994 by chief executive Paul Mooney). It’s traditional constituency is unskilled, longterm unemployed people. The Jobnet programme, however, caters for skilled professionals who never thought they’d be unemployed and who, in a stronger economy, wouldn’t be. A lot of the work they do is about rebuilding confidence, says Johnson. “They often don’t realise how skilled they are. There’s one financial manager here who asked ‘should I mention in my CV that I once managed a fund worth €2 billion’.”

Downstairs, 60-year-old Patrick Hession tells me his elevator pitch “I make sure business operations run smoothly”. A one-time army officer, he has a strong background in senior management, but has been unemployed since 2011. “It affects your self-confidence. People say ‘What’s wrong with you?”’ when you think you’re grand, but you’re wearing unemployment on your back and it’s dragging you down.”

David Lewis worked for 20 years with the same aeronautical maintenance company. In 2009 it closed and he has since bounced between short-term contracts and educational courses (including one in web programming). “It was like having your identity taken away,” he says. “Once you were ‘David Lewis operation support manager’ and now you’re not. It was devastating to be honest with you.” His former chief executive is a guest today. “I’m probably more nervous about meeting him than the others,” he says.

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