Searching for a job? Here's help

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Job hunters throughout the Pittsburgh region have a new place to get help.

WorkAble, a collaborative effort of three human service organizations in the area, aims to provide guidance in a geographically friendly manner for those looking for employment.

"This is groundbreaking for Pittsburgh," said Linda Ehrenreich, chief operating officer of Jewish Family & Children's Service. "You usually stay in your neighborhood. We're bringing the jobs to them."

Her Squirrel Hill-based organization is teaming with North Hills Community Outreach and South Hills Interfaith Ministries, three groups that have the common goal of addressing a critical need.

"We knew that dealing with people going back to work was one of the areas we had to focus on," said Jim Guffey, executive director of South Hills Interfaith Ministries.

"Our approach is a holistic approach," he said. "If you are struggling today with rent or your mortgage or getting food on the table, you have more critical needs than to launch a job search. We'll help them deal with immediate issues, then our employment specialists will work with the skill sets you have and need."

Mr. Guffey said the three agencies' common goal and their experience benefit the program.

"What really works well with this relationship is that we all were working together in various aspects already. So we knew each other," he said.

Jewish Family & Children's Service has operated a Career Development Center since 1984, and North Hills Community Outreach long has provided career counseling. Adding the South Hills' resources brings related services to more people who need them.

WorkAble combines the services of professional counselors with assistance from volunteer coaches who "provide support and encouragement during the job search, which can be very disheartening," said Fay Morgan, executive director of North Hills Community Outreach. "You typically get a lot more 'nos' before you eventually get to the 'yes.' "

Coaches also can assist with critical facets of a job search, such as technological considerations.

"Most of the time you have to apply for a lot of jobs online," Ms. Morgan said. "So somebody without a computer or without computer skills is definitely at a disadvantage."

Acquiring skills is an important consideration not only for people to find jobs but to keep them.

"What we've noticed over the years is if we don't help people overcome the barriers they have, we can help them get a job, but they won't be able to maintain it," said Jackie Foor, Jewish Family & Children's Service program manager and coordinator for WorkAble.

Volunteers for WorkAble can serve in a variety of capacities, with no previous experience in human resources or job coaching required.

"We will be able to serve more people as we get more volunteers," Ms. Ehrenreich said. "That's our goal. Then we don't have to put people on a wait list."

For information on volunteering: Caleb Zelanko, WorkAble volunteer coordinator, 412-487-6316, option 2, ext. 3204.

For information on participating in WorkAble: 412-904-5993.


Harry Funk, freelance writer:


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