Rod Kerr: Finding a job is a job

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2017

By Rod Kerr
Special to the Salisbury Post

They all came looking for a job. Some had lost them recently – some haven’t worked in years. Some were let go because of drugs, alcohol, incompetence, conflict – some were released because “the job ended”. Some had some boundaries – health, age , gaps in their resumes because they had family obligations they had to take care of and had to leave the job market temporarily. Some at the beginning of their vocational life – some toward the twilight of their years. All were expecting something.

“How many of you could use a job,” I started out with. All hands go up. Not surprised. “How many have looked, put in resumes, and are still looking?” Ditto with the hands. “Well, I don’t have a job for you.”

“WHAT? Isn’t that what we’re here for? Isn’t this Jobs for Life? Where’s the job so I can live?”

So now I’m faced with angry, sullen faces. Angry because they had to attend. Sullen because it was one more let down. I looked across the room and there was a handmade poster with a listing of current positions open. I looked to Horace, the middle-aged man to my left. “What kind of work are you looking for?”

“Man, I’m looking for anything,” he reluctantly replied. “I just need some money.” Anything – just need money. He wants to make a bunch of money. “Let’s help Horace since we’re all here together. What can he do to make a bunch of money?”

Loris, a mature little woman, meekly says, “He could sell drugs.”

“There it is, Horace. Loris says you can sell drugs.”

“But you’re a PREACHER, aren’t you? You can’t tell him to sell drugs,” Morris interjects.

“I’m just trying to help Horace, and he says money is what he needs.”

“But that’s against the law. What if I get caught?” questions Horace.

Doris says, “I’ll tell you what happens! You go to jail, lose everything.” Doris knows. That’s what happened to her.

“I sure don’t want to go to jail,” Horace shouted.

People start laughing. So there is something more important than money for Horace – freedom, staying out of jail. There is something that he values more than money. That may not be the most important thing.

Bill stated, “What about all those kids whose lives are ruined by that stuff? I know my brother was one.”

So, it’s not just avoiding jail; there seems to be morals and ethics involved in how we earn a living.

“I don’t even know if I (could) sell anything,” states Horace.

Jill quipped and laughed, “I couldn’t even sell drugs.”

So there are certain skills needed in job choice. Shaquille kept it going, “I’m just not interested in running with those folks. They get on my last nerve.” The room erupts with laughter.

All except Manuel who had been sitting quietly. “Manuel,” I said, “I’ve lost control of this group. What are you hearing that folks need in a job?”

So we began to work. He helped me write:

  • What’s important to me? What do I really care about?
  • What do I like to talk about? What subject did I like in school?
  • Do I think with my head or with my heart?
  • What do I do well? What have I done in the past?

Values, Interests, Personality, Shells (or VIPS) are the foundation of a vocational search. There are always things we can do, but do we want to do them?

Equally important, do we want to do them for a long time? The average person spends one-third of their lifetime at work – approximately 109,980 hours! In order to make good, informed decisions about jobs, careers, vocations – even college and high school classes – it is a good idea to discover and articulate what you bring into a job.

Know yourself – know the job you want. And then begin to bridge the gap.

Salisbury Jobs for Life is sponsoring “First Steps in a Satisfying Career” on Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28 at the First Ministry Center of First Baptist Church, 220 N. Fulton St.

The mini-workshop will be held 7-9 p.m. on Friday, and participants can discover their personality type and explore their career interests by using exercises and assessments.

Saturday morning, from 9 a.m. to noon, through the use of card sorts and discussion, they will identify their skills and use a Career Key to define their interests. At the end of the five-hour seminar, those involved will be ready to discover what they offer to the job market and where they can best invest their lives.

Two years ago

Salisbury Jobs for Life began two years ago to offer a unique solution to poverty and joblessness. It is a part of a network that covers 160 cities in 34 states, and nine foreign countries providing faith-based job and career training and assistance to those who are unemployed, underemployed and misemployed.

The “First Steps to a Satisfying Career” is an innovative and interactive way to begin the process which will be followed up by a series of training sessions on Wednesday and Sunday evenings during February and March. A company of volunteers – instructors, mentors, hospitality and leadership teams – will assist those involved in sessions to help people discover their distinction, develop their gifts and talents, and direct them to not just a satisfying job but a meaningful life.

The workshop and classes are free and open to all adults 18 years and older.

Rod Kerr is site director for Salisbury Jobs for Life. For more information, contact him a  704-633-0431 ext. 105 or