Continuing with the new series of introducing folks that I’ve met in my own job search, today we’re taking a look at ConnectWork Chicago. This is a new partnership that brings together the folks who had been running Out Of Work Chicago and Hire Power Solutions, Patrick Iwanicki, Amy Zagroba, Linda Kesselman, and Veronica Ludwig. While I’ve had some contact with most of the team over the past year, the one person that I’ve really gotten to know is Veronica, who has been very active both in the the job-search and social media networking scene in Chicago, as well as on Twitter (@VeronicaLudwig).
Veronica defines ConnectWork Chicago’s mission as providing resources to the career professional as well as companies looking to hire, these including networking events, educational seminars, workshops and webinars, as well as their online blog. The new company has created a lot of buzz, including coverage in the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and more.
Aside from her work with ConnectWork Chicago, Veronica maintains one of the top networking calendars for the Chicago market on her personal site, color coded for business, social, conference, and non-profit events … definitely something you should check out!
Anyway, she agreed to answer The Job Stalker e-mail interview questionnaire, and her answers follow:
Q: Briefly, what’s your background?
A: I originally began my career as a direct hire, accounting and finance Recruiter with Adecco. When I left there, I took a similar position with a smaller, family owned firm in the suburbs of Chicago. After my first year and a half in the business, I decided to work for myself and start my own company. I’ve been an independent recruiter ever since and being self employed also turned me into an entrepreneur. I’ve been involved in multiple ventures over the last 3 years.
Q: Have you had notable job-transition experiences?
A: My job transition story trumps most that I hear. Before I began my career as a recruiter, I lived in Florida and worked as a nail technician and salon manager. I moved to Illinois and decided to transition into the corporate world. With very little education and virtually zero experience, I landed my first job with Adecco, the world’s largest staffing firm. How did I do it? Persistence, yes, but more importantly, I applied the skills I did have towards the functions of the job that I wanted. I sold myself because I believed in myself. Confidence goes a long way.
Q: What brought you to the career support industry?
A: When I relocated from Florida to Illinois, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My resume was found online and a recruiter called me regarding an internal opportunity with her firm. After spending around 8 hours interviewing, skills testing and job shadowing, I knew that this was the career for me! Instead of taking the first job that came to me, I decided to do my research and interviewed at multiple staffing firms around Chicago until I found the one I found had the most value and learning opportunity.
Q: How do you see the job market in the next 3-6 months?
A: The job market is very unpredictable. Everyone has their own theories about what to expect. Because my livelihood depends on the job market, I’ve learned to be prepared for the worst. However, it’s a very good time for job seekers right now. Companies are starting to hire in Human Resources and Marketing again. Those were the first industries to take a really hard hit with layoffs. In my opinion, once those departments are replenished, other departments will start expanding again too.
Q: If you had just ONE piece of advice for today’s job searcher, what would that be?
A: Be prepared for opportunity. It’s so easy to be discouraged on the job search, especially when you’ve been unemployed for over a year. It has given a lot of people a very negative attitude. Some people don’t even realize it! But I see it when I interview people and I see it when I’m out networking. If you have this attitude internally, it shows externally. The opportunities are opening up, so be prepared. Get rid of the attitude.
Q: What do you feel makes ConnectWork Chicago unique?
A: ConnectWork Chicago is unique in the fact that we are all here to help by providing every resource we can find to help the career professional meet their goals. Whether it be a job search, career transition, industry education, or career advancement. The team of volunteers are amazing people who genuinely care about the community. The advice and resources are second to none and I have not found another group I’d recommend. That’s why I joined the board of directors!
Q: Aside from your services, what resources do you recommend?
A: There are so many resources available for job seekers and I find that so little take advantage of them. It’s not about just doing one thing. I recommend utilizing every single resource you can find on a regular basis. If you find that you’re spending an entire day online looking for jobs and going through all of your social networking sites, you’re doing something wrong. With all of the free networking events, workshops and volunteering opportunities out there…online research should only be a portion of your search. Also, find ways to help others and create some good karma for yourself. Try to remember that you’re not the only one that is going through a hard time.
Q: Any additional words of wisdom?
A: Never give up. Cliche as it may sound, you only have opportunity to lose if you give up the fight.