The indignity of losing a job can perhaps only be equaled by the difficulties often associated with finding new employment.
Long-term joblessness not only can have lasting negative impacts on one’s financial stability, but — according to some researchers — it can leave lasting psychological scars.
That’s where someone like Beth Cole can help.
She presides over a weekly meeting at the Oro Valley Public Library where jobseekers come to learn new strategies aimed at returning to the workforce.
“I want this to be something that they don’t get in the normal course of looking for work,” Cole said. “They can get, ‘How to write a resume’ anywhere.”
More than simple and practical information about resumes or interviewing strategies, which Cole also teaches, the meetings resemble therapy sessions.
“You say you want to work at home, but I don’t think that’s what you really want,” Cole tells one participant who was discussing an assignment on setting goals. “You really want a comfortable working situation.”
Cole tells the group to be honest with themselves when they start to visualize career goals.
“When you put something in your statement that you don’t want, it’s not likely going to happen,” she said.
Oro Valley resident John DeCoville has attended the group regularly since the meetings began in April. DeCoville, 64, worked for 10 years in information technology for Pinal County government before he was laid off. Now he wants to reinvent his outlook and his career.
“(Cole) helps people change their mental outlook for maximum effectiveness,” DeCoville said. “It’s helped me in all sorts of areas of my life.”
In the nearly 10 months that he’s been attending the sessions, DeCoville said he’s seen many people start out feeling despondent but leaving with a new attitude. Many also have eventually found success on the job market.
Cole, a 73-year-old mother and grandmother, worked for many years as a business consultant and executive recruiter. On her website she bills herself as a small business advisor, entrepreneur, diagnostician, connector, speaker and “implementor.”
At the jobseeker meetings in Oro Valley, she enforces only one rule: “Nothing negative.”
The rule applies to all attendees no matter their frustrations on the job hunt. And she applies the rule with maniacal persistence when people appear to be descending into negativity.
“I stop people in mid-word,” Cole said.
She said people frustrated with being out of work could easily fall into the doldrums and are particularly susceptible to negative influences and the constant media pounding about the bad economy.
“That alters their perceptions about what is real and what isn’t,” Cole said. Besides, she added, “There are people out there getting jobs, why shouldn’t it be you.”
Cole focused last week’s meeting on networking and how people make contacts.
She starts off telling the group about how she met new people when she first moved to the Northwest. It was as easy as sending some e-mails and making a few phone calls, she explains.
One of those calls was to her daughter who once lived in the Tucson area. Her daughter provided a few contacts, who Cole then called and e-mailed.
Within a few weeks, she was having coffee and lunch with her new contacts. From there, her network started to grow.
“It’s not a mystery,” she said. “There’s nothing special about what I do. Anybody can do this.”
Of course there are a few tricks of the networking trade that Cole offers, like reaching out to people you already know.
Another tip is to attend business group breakfasts and other mixers regularly. People also could build a network by volunteering with organizations they have an interest in, she said.
And she offers this bit of advice that flies in the face of the new logic of the modern tech-centric culture.
“It just doesn’t happen if you’re sitting behind your computer at your desk,” Cole said. “You have to get out.”
She eschews the online networking sites, saying most people still find work through face-to-face contact. She said as much as 80 percent of jobs come as a result of personal networking efforts.
“This is how it was in 1977 when I was looking for a job,” Cole said.
For more info
Jobseeker group meets Fridays at the Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Drive, from 3 to 4 p.m.
Check the schedule of events through the town’s website: www.orovalleyaz.gov. Use the drop-down menu under “Residents” for the library link.
Beth Cole’s website: