First impressions … lasting impact

By Paige Paulsen, Goodwill Employment Specialist
Financial Action Services (01) - October 17, 2013_2

A

pril showers bring May flowers, but what does May bring? The hope for many is a new crop of job opportunities. It is the time of year when many businesses hire extra help for the busy summer months. Some people may be turned off by the prospect of seasonal work, but any work experience is a chance to show your value. Getting the proverbial foot in the door might be the opportunity you need to show your work ethic and skills.

Opportunities to demonstrate our skills and willingness work before we are hired are rare. Most of the time we do not even get to meet the people that looking at our applications. We spend hours perfecting our applications often with no response. We think “if only they could meet me, I could sell myself!” A job fair is a great opportunity to meet the people who are looking to hire the best candidates for their company. It’s your chance to shake a hand, look at a person in eye, and promote yourself. The goal is to leave a lasting impression in that one minute, so your name and face are imprinted in that person’s mind. When they review the résumé you leave behind, or pull your application from online, your positive impression gives you an advantage.

You are lying to yourself if you think showing up to a job fair, filling out applications, and handing out résumés will get you hired on the spot. Let’s pull it back to reality. Like anything in life it takes proper preparation. In advance of the fourth annual Veterans Job Fair on May 15 in Muskegon, Goodwill is hosting two résumé and interview skills workshops. Take advantage of these free and informative learning events to put your best foot forward.

Résumé and Interview Skills Workshop will be held April 30, and Résumé and Job Fair Navigation Workshop is the day before the job fair on May 14. These workshops are your chance to have your resume critiqued or to make a one from scratch. You’ll learn how to be successful in an interview and tips on how to answer common interview questions. Finally, you can learn how can utilize the opportunity of a job fair and maximize your results.

The old adage says, “Honesty is the best policy.” Be honest with yourself. If you are struggling to find employment, do not be afraid to seek help. Ask questions to the people who work and deal with hiring and getting people hired. Assess what you have done in the past and do not dismiss valid suggestions. With any luck April, will bring May flowers and May will bring, JOBS!

For more information about Goodwill workshops, click here.

For more information about the Veterans Job Fair, click here

Your change changes lives

By Drew Robinson, Resource Development Coordinator

T

hey say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. As with much of life, this could also apply to the challenges many of Goodwill’s program participants face every day. This is especially true in our MoneyWorks program, which helps people with financial problems find a way to succeed – one dollar at a time. Some have faced crippling debts for years, struggling to get on top of it but never quite paying it all off. Others are nearing a retirement age, and are worried about how they will afford the next stage of their life. There are others who are trying to manage their finances in order to purchase a home or car. Regardless of the situation, the MoneyWorks team is dedicated to helping people make their goals a reality – no matter how long it takes.

And starting this month, you can be a part of their success. From March 23 to July 2, when you shop at your local Goodwill, you will have the opportunity to “round up” your purchase to the next even dollar. These donations will be used to provide MoneyWorks clients with the financial counseling they need to succeed. Financial discipline is hard. By working one-on-one with a MoneyWorks financial specialist, clients receive the support they need to stay focused and achieve their goals.

Please consider rounding up your purchase the next time you shop with us. The few cents you give will be combined with those of other shoppers who want to help, and can make a huge difference in the life of someone in your community. The journey to financial freedom can be long and lonely. Let’s help people who are struggling to take the next step to success together.

We also welcome your financial gifts at anytime. Donate online, by mail, or through your financial advisor. For more information: http://www.goodwillwm.org/donate/financial-gifts/

You love your stuff … Does it love you back?

By Lorie Marrero, author of The Clutter Diet
Man-holds-teddy-bear

F

ebruary is a time for focusing on LOVE! Beyond whom you love, let’s talk for a moment about WHAT you love.

When I work with clients, so often we are going through items and they happily exclaim, “Oh, I LOVE this!” They get to say this a few times (and I do say this myself), but if I hear this sentence used too much as a rationalization for keeping things that are not needed, we have to discuss that. The stuff does not love you back! What is at the root of this love for inanimate objects?

Loved items from the PAST
We form attachments to objects because we love the memories that those objects represent. A model car might represent that car you drove in high school, with the attached memories of the fun you had with your friends driving around. Baby clothes represent the sweet memories of your children’s cuteness (before they became teenagers). It’s great to keep some mementos, but only if they are not overpowering your ability to function in your current time and space and blocking what you can do in the present and future.

Loved items for the FUTURE
We also might love objects because of what we hope they represent for ourselves later. You may prize an exquisite tablecloth you never use, because you envision using it at a fancy dinner party for your friends in the future. You may hold on to an antique easel because someday you envision yourself taking up painting. Keeping a few items like these is a great idea for reminding you of your goals. But if those goals have become unrealistic and are now just nagging you and reminding you about stale aspirations, they need to go and make room for other more relevant items.

Loved items that are BEAUTIFUL
We may love objects because they bring beauty and enjoyment into our lives. Art and other creative items like books are very important to inspire us and make us feel good in our spaces. The famous quote by William Morris says, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” So, if it’s beautiful to you, are you displaying it? If not, why? Again, if you have so much that it’s affecting your ability to function, you need to pare it down. Remember, form follows function!

What objects do you love? Are they getting in your way? If you’ve been inspired to pare it down, remember that donating to Goodwill® is the best way to provide a good home to your loved items while helping others in your own community to find a good job.

How to be more confident in job interviews

By guest blogger Ginny Neumer of Goodwill Keystone Area

“I’m so nervous when I go on interviews. I never know what questions they’ll ask.”

“I hate going on interviews.”

“I know what I want to say during an interview but what comes out is mush.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?  No matter what your age, you can be confident in interviews by following three easy steps.

Prepare. Before the interview, get to know the company—what it does, who it serves, its competitors, its suppliers, its senior officers, and the reasons you should be the one they hire. The company’s website will have answers to these items. Know your résumé and have a story to tell about every bullet point on it—interviewers remember people who can talk about their strengths and how they relate to the job. It also helps to know how to answer common interview questions.

Practice. Practice interviewing in support groups, job clubs, workshops, or with a friend. You will only get better, and you’ll be able to eliminate mistakes. Proper attire depends on the job, so  make sure several interview outfits are ready to go at a moment’s notice. Learn more about proper attire here. Don’t overlook personal hygiene—hair, teeth, hands/nails.

Execute. When you know the name of the interviewer, research him or her on the Internet to see if you have anything in common to talk about. Take at least five copies of your résumé with you, and arrive 10-15 minutes before your appointment. Turn off all electronic devices and do not check your phone for messages or e-mails. Stand and wait to be escorted into the interviewer’s office; once inside, wait to be seated until the interviewer directs you where to sit. When it’s your turn, ask relevant job-related questions of the interviewer. At the end of the interview, get the interviewer’s business card and promptly send them a thank-you message, making sure to spell their and the company’s name correctly.

Every interview is an opportunity to improve. After each, ask yourself, ‘What can I do better? What did I do well? What should I stop doing?’ By combining those learning experiences with these best practices, you’ll find that you can master interviews. Learn more about interviewing and get more career advice on Goodwill’s GoodProspects site.

Ginny Neumer works for Goodwill Keystone Area’s Community Service Employment Program, and uses her experience as a former human resource generalist to teach people job-search skills for today’s job market.

You are the company you keep

By Richard Carlson, President and CEO

Going back to my childhood, I recall my parents reading from an Aesop’s Fable that carried the moral: “you are known by the company you keep.” Many of you will remember that quote from your own formative years and of learning the importance of surrounding ourselves with persons of integrity.

In like manner, companies of all types also need to surround themselves with good company. Together we learn, support best practices and build sustainable communities. We recently learned that for the third year in a row, Goodwill Industries has again been named to Forbes “America’s 20 Most Inspiring Companies” list. On top of that, we have moved from 23rd (formerly a top 25 list) in 2012, to 19th in 2013, and are listed 11th in 2014. We are very proud that we have been recognized as one of our nation’s most inspiring organizations, and that once again we are the only not-for-profit charitable company that made the list.

As in the past, the list was based on survey results from Performance Inspired, Inc. The company collected 3,300 online questionnaires from respondents who were asked to imagine a fictitious inspirational company, write about its values, behaviors and attitudes, including how it would treat customers and the community. Then they had to name an inspirational real life company and describe how it measured up to the fictional company. Finally, survey-takers ranked how inspirational they thought the company was on a scale of one to 10.

To be listed again as one of America’s most inspiring companies is both humbling and gratifying. Most importantly, I believe that thanks to the amazing network of employees in Goodwill agencies across the U.S., Canada and around the world, consumers everywhere have come to understand that by donating and shopping at your local Goodwill store, you are investing in job opportunities and skills development training in our local communities.

This honor reaffirms our belief that people understand that by supporting their local Goodwill, the revenues we earn are invested locally and make a tremendous difference in the lives of people we serve; not charity, but a chance. Goodwill is able to fulfill our mission only because of you … the good company we keep.

Changes in Goodwill’s electronic recycling program

By Stan Brown, Industrial Services Manager 

A few months ago I blogged about recycling electronics and my great experience touring the facility of our recycling partner, Valley City Electronic Recycling in Grand Rapids.

Everything we do at Goodwill is driven by our mission of providing work opportunities, skill development, and family strengthening resources throughout the West Michigan communities we serve. We recycle electronics primarily because it generates jobs. The process involved in sorting, packing, and palletizing donated electronics provides valuable paid work experience and job skills training for people enrolled in Goodwill transitional employment programming. In addition, a lot of hazardous material is diverted from the waste stream.

For many years now, Goodwill has been committed to, and proud of, providing convenient television donation and recycling as a free service to the community. In the past, the manufacturers of TVs paid a subsidy to the recycling industry to make the process financially sustainable for all parties. That subsidy has declined to the point that it is no longer viable for Valley City and other recyclers to process the older-style cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and CRT computer monitors without applying a surcharge to those who collect the TVs. So instead of the recycler paying Goodwill for those items, Goodwill will be required to pay the recycler to process these select items we collect. Unfortunately, that is not a viable option for Goodwill and is not compatible with our mission. As a result, we are no longer accepting donations of the old-style CRT TVs and CRT monitors. For the same reason, we are also no longer able to accept donations of the large projection-style TVs.

It is important to note that Goodwill continues to accept recycle a wide range of flat-screen televisions, computers, and many other electronic devices … in any condition. Those donations do indeed support our mission and help create jobs, so please keep them coming! We sincerely thank you!

To view a list of all the items we DO continue to accept, view here.

Expect. Employ. Empower.

By Jennifer Tucker, Mission Services Director

For nearly 70 years, a broad coalition of businesses, organizations and government agencies have stood together to support an important mission: to employ Americans with disabilities. With the unemployment rate for those with disabilities still nearly double that of people without disabilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this mission is now more important than ever. As I have witnessed many times, work has the power to give people a sense of purpose and self-esteem they may not have been able to receive elsewhere. Try to remember the first paycheck you earned and how proud you were to have the money in your pocket that was put there by your hard work. Whether you saved your money to spend it on a movie you were dying to see, clothes your parents wouldn’t let you wear, or to put shoes on your child’s feet, this is a memory that I hope all people will have the opportunity to recall.

Throughout the month of October, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Labor to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This national campaign, which has roots tracing back to 1945, raises awareness about the contributions people with disabilities make in America’s workforce, and it encourages companies and organizations to build business cultures that value diversity, respect and employment opportunities for all.

This year’s NDEAM theme is “Expect. Employ. Empower.” Millions of Americans with disabilities make important contributions to our workplaces every day, and during October we encourage local employers to take a look at their hiring practices and ensure they are doing everything possible to recruit and meet the potential needs of such employees. Making a commitment to employ people with disabilities not only empowers this often overlooked population— but as many employers I have worked with will gladly tell you, the commitment will help companies build diversity and find dedicated, passionate and impactful employees. I am looking forward to hearing the stories of first paychecks and of the excitement that comes with that first day of work.