In February 2009, the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits soared to an all-time high of nearly five million. To make a bleak picture even bleaker, the Federal Reserve projects that unemployment will continue to rise for the remainder of the year.
Now for the good news. In response to the growing number of unemployed in our community, the Orthodox Union’s (OU) Job Board has stepped up its efforts. The online service currently includes 1,200 job listings (among them Fortune 500 companies) and 500 posted resumes. In the past two years alone, the Job Board has helped 1,100 individuals find jobs.
Under the direction of Michael (Srulie) Rosner, the Job Board online (www.oujobs.org) puts job seekers and employers into direct contact. Rosner initially screens each job and then posts it for thirty days, free of charge. Job seekers can access the site, also free of charge, and search for local, national and international positions in a variety of fields such as advertising, law, healthcare, banking, engineering, information technology and nutrition, among others. The site also invites applicants to post their resumes.
Helping job seekers put their best feet forward, the Job Board site features articles and videos on pragmatic topics that cover every angle of the job search. Topics include “Acing the Interview,” “Keys to Effective Networking” and “Starting a Business in Today’s Economy.”
“People tend to view losing a job as a personal failure,” says Rosner. “But it isn’t; it’s the economy we live in. That acceptance is key to getting on track.”
In addition to the web site, the Job Board conducts employment-preparation workshops with a team of volunteers, all of whom are experts in either accounting, finance, corporate consulting or human resources. Workshop topics have included “How to Write a Resume,” “The Elements of the Job Search” and “Understanding the Hiring Process.” Job seekers can also access the Job Board’s online e-Learning Classes, which cover Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office software.
“People are finding a viable resource in the Job Board,” says Rosner. “They’re getting training; they are retooling their lives and finding work.”
The Job Board also hosts seminars, held at the OU headquarters in downtown Manhattan. Participants glean valuable pointers for a successful job hunt.
“I’m there to help people overcome their barriers, to ensure that they are in the right frame of mind to go out and secure employment,” says Susan Resnick, a job-readiness consultant who has led several seminars for the Job Board. She says that whenever she addresses a group, she finds that inevitably 80 percent of the audience is suffering from depression. “They used to be professionals and are no longer [so],” she says. “They all need an ego boost.” The seminars, which attract thousands of job seekers, are broadcast live online and are also archived on the Job Board.
As more and more unemployed turn to today’s “information highway” for help, the Job Board has become a popular address. The number of hits on the site has more than doubled in the past six months, rising from 60,000 visitors per month to 140,000. “This type of situation is both good news and bad news,” says Rosner. “We’re happy the Job Board is helping people through these tough economic times, but we’re not happy that so many have had to turn to us for help. It hurts every time I see someone who was making a good living and is now struggling.”
Brimming with innovative job-hunting strategies, Rosner recently initiated Project R.E.T.U.R.N. (Retired Employees Transmitting, Understanding, Respect and Nurturing), which draws on the help of retirees—individuals with ample wisdom and experience to share with job hunters. He also introduced the Wall Street Initiative, a series of gatherings of frum professionals eager to network with others in a similar industry.
“Networking is the key element to finding a job; a social event gives people the chance to do that in a comfortable environment,” says Rosner. “We’d like to eventually invite employers who can also network with individuals looking for work.”
Rosner’s efforts towards expanding the Job Board include partnering with employers such as the FBI, the IRS and several New York City municipal departments. He estimates that these partnerships will generate 3,000 additional jobs, with positions in cities across the United States.
The OU views the Job Board, fast becoming an indispensable resource for the Orthodox unemployed, as an integral part of its mission to assist Klal Yisrael. “Nothing could be better than finding employment for someone out of work,” says OU President Stephen J. Savitsky. “It not only gives individuals a financial base, but it also begins to restore hope and faith that things can and will get better.”
Bayla Sheva Brenner is senior writer in the OU Communications and Marketing Department.