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Support group for job-seekers boasts 67 percent success rate



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January 05, 2011 - In the area of economic news, 2010 wasn't all doom and gloom. There was actually some reason to celebrate.

For instance, 31 out of 46 folks (or 67 percent) looking for jobs as part of the local Transitions program attained full or part-time employment last year.

"I'd say 95 percent of those are attributed to connections they've made through this group," said Jeff Davidson, who serves as the moderator for Transitions. "It shows that networking works."

Founded in February 2010, Transitions is an employment networking and career guidance program that meets every Friday at Oxford United Methodist Church (21 E. Burdick St.). Meetings begin at 9 a.m. and typically last until 11-11:30 a.m.

Supported and promoted by the North Oakland County affiliate of Love In the Name of Christ, Transitions is faith-based and run by volunteers. It's open to all local individuals who have found themselves jobless during these difficult times and are seeking advice and assistance in their search for employment.

Davidson noted the number of members who have found employment could actually be higher because there are 11 folks who no longer attend the meetings and haven't responded to his surveys.

"You hope that means they're working," he said.

One of the primary ways Transitions members help each other is by passing along job postings, which Davidson sends out through e-mail blasts.

For instance, if someone knows of an accounting position that's open and there's someone in the group with experience in that field, they share the news.

"They know what they're searching for, so everybody's always feeding me postings," said Davidson, who's a 1971 Oxford High School graduate. "We're all helping each other. It's a group effort."

Transitions also helps its members by bringing in speakers to address a variety of topics including preparing resumes and cover letters, interview techniques, using LinkedIn, what recruiters look for and "elevator speeches."

Elevator speeches are 30-60-second spiels in which people introduce themselves and talk about their career experience and skills in the hopes of generating interest about them.

In addition to networking and advice, Transitions provides its members with a safe place to get things off their chests and receive emotional support.

Unlike similar groups that offer their members a minute or two to update everyone on what's going on with them, Transitions doesn't set any time limits.

"I tend to allow them to vent," Davidson said. "If they had a bad week, tell us about it."

First-time attendees receive special treatment at the meetings.

"We'll literally spend half of a session on a new person," Davidson said. "They leave feeling like these people really care and they do."

In the past, Transitions has brought in a psychologist to talk about the emotional effects of job loss and how these feelings are normal.

"We want people to feel like they're not alone in this," Davidson said.

Every week, a pastor from the Oxford-Orion Ministers Association attends the Transitions meeting to offer support, counseling and help connect people with different resources.

Davidson noted that back in September, one of the members was facing the prospect of losing her home. However, thanks to Transitions, she was able to find resources that allowed her to keep it.

"We do more than just look for jobs," he said.

For Davidson, who's been searching for a job since resigning his post as Oxford Bank president and CEO in May 2009, leading Transitions has been especially rewarding.

"It's been a very fulfilling experience for me," he said. "You wish you didn't even have to have the group, but you're happy that it's there to support people that are struggling."

For more information about Transitions, Davidson can be reached via e-mail at davidsonj5255@yahoo.com or by calling (810) 790-1018.

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