By Sarah Shah
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer
Jennifer Hartzog, a marketing and communications specialist from Chapel Hill, said she was eliminated from her job at a publishing company last November.
And Bruce Gingerich, a product line manager from Pittsboro, said he was recently laid off by his company, which has gone through a few downsizes.
With the February unemployment rate in North Carolina soaring to a record 10.7 percent, according to a North Carolina Employment and Securities Commission report, Hartzog and Gingerich are just two of many people turning to networking opportunities and professional job search advisers like Mike Komives for help.
“I help people search for jobs in this tough environment,” said Komives, a Carrboro-based career and job search adviser. “And now, I am finding out how elastic I am. I’m really going 24/7 and helping a lot more people.”
Komives said he often hosts workshops such as the one held at St. Thomas More Church in Chapel Hill on March 28th devoted to the topic of interviewing.
The workshop, which had more than 30 people in attendance, featured four human resources professionals from places like GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Duke University’s Fuquay School of Business.
“What they did was talk about all the process of interviewing, how to prepare for it, how to conduct it and what to do after,” Komives said.
First, though, each person had to give a “thirty-second elevator speech” describing his or her current job situation.
Komives said many people who have recently been let go are afraid to talk about it, and are bitter and embarrassed.
“They’re afraid to talk about it, and they really should not be because they are not alone,” he said. “The best thing to do is say, ‘hey, I got let go and I am valuable, I have skills and I am very productive.’”
Attendees also got to participate in mock interviews with one another. “It was good that I could go into a mock interview and now I can go home and reflect on it,” Gingerich said.
Gingerich added that he’s known Komives for three years and now sees him on a regular basis. “He’s been very helpful, and he kind of prods you along,” he said.
Komives, a self-described “glass half-full kind of person,” said part of his job is building confidence and empowering people. “The job search is emotionally the pits at first,” he said. “So it’s important to talk about strengths, motivations and values.”
Komives added that it was also extremely important for job seekers to network as much as possible. “You know more people than you think,” he said. “And there are a lot of good groups out there like TAFU [To Avoid Future Unemployment] and the Triangle Networking Group.”
Sujan Joshi, a senior communications major at UNC-Chapel Hill from Raleigh, said she planned on networking more. “It’s really unfortunate that I’m graduating at a time when there are so few people hiring,” she said.
Nonetheless, she remained optimistic and confident. “The good thing is that there’s help on the way, and things can only get better,” she said.