Anita Jenke is no politician. She is not someone who “believes” what’s going on; she knows. She and her team sit as conduit between job seeker and candidate searching company. Jenke is the executive director of The Career Transitions Center of Chicago (http://www.ctcchicago.org/ ). She and her staff daily take on the task of helping displaced workers and recent college graduate with their employment transitions.
I had an opportunity recently to interview Jenke, and to capture her perspectives in this article. When asked whether or not traffic into CTC had diminished, Jenke’s answer surprised me. “Attendance is down in the summer, but that is quite typical. If you compare our attendance today with the same period in 2009, it is pretty much flat.” The rest of the interview Q & A was as follows:
Q) What does the average CTC program participant look like? Has the profile changed?
“Over 70% of CTC trainees are between 40 and 70 years old. This group seems to be the most underemployed. Department of Labor (http://www.dol.gov/ ) statistics show that people over 50 represent 22% of all unemployed workers; 28.4% of the long term unemployed (greater than 6 months) is over 50 years of age.”
Q) Do you believe that those over 50 represent such high percentages because of a lack of computer skills?
“I do not believe so. One of our clients, over 50, recently took advantage of a government grant to go back to school to enhance her social media skills. Not only that, our clients come from a number of fields. We have clients that are MBA’s, dentists, IT professionals, lawyers, and even preachers. The only thing I can safely say is that the economy does not and has not discriminated.”
Q) Based on what you’re seeing, do you believe the economy is rebounding?
“We polled our clients from 2009. Our response rate was 32%, and 60% of the respondents had found work. We did the same poll this year. The response rate was identical, but 80% of the respondents had found work. Our economy is coming along.”
Q) What advice would you give job seekers today?
“I would give all current job seekers two pieces of advice. First, understand what you’re facing. There are about 7 well qualified candidates for every open position. Second, find a way to tap into the hidden network. Some companies may not want to post job openings publicly, because they do not want to manage thousands of resumes. These jobs are filled by recommendation and word of mouth. If candidates can find a way to tap into the hidden network, they can find jobs.”
Countdown to NSHMBA…