As we move past the period where we have celebrated Thanksgiving and anticipate the upcoming holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, we often get into the mindset of gift giving. Over the last two years I have met several individuals in job search. Many of them are long time workers who – even though they were out of work before – did not realize how difficult being out of work in today’s economy is from what they experienced in the past. In a labor market where there is excessive supply and not nearly enough demand, those doing the hiring can be very selective in whom they choose to bring into their employment.

This post is about three of those people, Pat, Mary and John. All of them found themselves out of work. All were at a time of their life where they had worked for several years and frankly were at an age where the demographics say it would be difficult to near impossible for them to find a job. Not only did all of them land in jobs which were appropriate for their skills and talents, it is what they have done since landing those positions that I choose to recognize.

Pat, Mary and John all came out of an era where they had learned that if you were in need of a job you either checked the want ads or worked through a recruiter to find another. They quickly learned those approaches did not work so well in today’s job market. What they also all very quickly learned was the need to put oneself out there. That meant attending as many networking sessions as possible. Often these sessions were at local libraries. They also learned they needed to reach out to former colleagues, customers and bosses to let them know they were in job search. One of the cruel lessons they learned was that friends and family that were currently employed and had not been out of work in several years had little understanding of the current job search process steps. Those contacts could not understand why they just did not do the old standby approaches to finding a job. As such, all three learned the best people to partner with, while in search, were others who were also looking for new employment. That meant being part of sessions where each participant shared the details of their search, including critiquing resume’s, practicing interviews and being there as encouragement to each other to write letters to perspective contacts or make phone calls – even if it was just to set up an interview in order to make a new contact, without the expectation of an immediate job opening.

As I indicated, all are now gainfully employed. However, they have not forgotten the many people still in search. Pat and Mary each still remain connected to the transition groups that they became a part of. They are both willing to share job openings of which they become aware, or articles on job search that they know will benefit others. (They know these writings will help as they encourage use of techniques that were helpful in their own search). John took on an approach that was truly inspiring. Almost two years ago in the midst of his own search he went to his local library. He asked for room space and the ability to post about a meeting of fellow job seekers. He started a group known as “Neighbors Helping Neighbors”. The group was set up with some very simple rules. If in search you came to the meetings to relay what steps you had taken in your search that week, what you intended to do in the coming week and where you might need the assistance of the group. The only rule John instituted was that no whining was allowed. The intention was that the group was to be proactive as individuals in search helping each other.

Slowly but surely members of the groups began landing positions. They were able to refer fellow attendees to those who may be an appropriate match for a position they were seeking. They were able to provide each other recommendations on how to improve resumes´ or ways they were presenting themselves. From the original attendees others came to the sessions. Meanwhile, John himself realized just because he had found a position, was no reason to leave the group. He also encouraged other attendees who had landed a job to continue to come to offer support, guidance and to facilitate group sessions.

Soon word about “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” spread. Other surrounding towns were interested in starting a version in their library. Today there are branches of “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” in libraries in eight different counties in the state of New Jersey. There are even chapters opening in surrounding states. It is an incredible story of how the efforts of one person giving back and inspiring others to do so, has gone on to help so many people. (To learn more about Neighbors Helping Neighbors go to

Yes, Pat, Mary and John are all very special people. They went through difficult times themselves, but have never forgotten those feelings. Instead of completely running away from those times, they chose to help others going through the same emotions. What’s a difficult situation that you have been through? What did you learn from it? Are you ready to share what you learned with others to help them move forward? Giving back is a major way to help support those around you who are going through a difficult time realize it is possible to make it through and move on to the next chapter of their life.

Author's Bio: 

Tony Calabrese of Absolute Transitions provides suggestions, approaches and information on how you can find a new job, move up to a new position, or change your career. To get his free report, "Overcoming Obstacles to Change Your Life" visit