Whether it is online social networking or talking with a neighbor mowing their lawn, the members of the North Canton Executive Networking Group (NCENG) recently learned that finding their next employment position can come from the most unusual places.

Whether it is online social networking or talking with a neighbor mowing their lawn, the members of the North Canton Executive Networking Group (NCENG) recently learned that finding their next employment position can come from the most unusual places. The group meets every other Tuesday to network, talk about their job prospects and to learn how to understand the emotions associated with job loss.


The NCENG is a group of persons, mostly those who held executive or white-collar positions, that have lost their job over the past few years. Some of the members were in the same job for over 20 years and writing resumes or interviewing has not been in their thought processes for some time.


The group was formed in May, 2009 with the help of community leaders and others in Stark County. The mission is to provide a northeast Ohio networking group dedicated to helping professionals find jobs by providing best-practice guidance, networking opportunities and support. Originally, the group started meeting in the North Canton Chamber of Commerce office then moved to a church in North Canton. Currently, the group meets in the Church of the Lakes United Methodist near Lake Cable in Jackson Township. Meetings start at 8:30 a.m. and end around 11 a.m.


Starting with about 10 people who found themselves suddenly unemployed, the group has had up to 70 members and around 40 people attend now. Many types of professional titles have been, or, are members including engineers, sales and marketing professionals, software and IT professionals, human resource specialists, financial and other types of managers and supervisors, business analysts, business development specialists and small business owners.


Members have come and gone over the past two years. “During what I call the desert period throughout 2009, nobody was getting any calls or interviews,” said Joyce Rodek, the group’s current leader.


“Since that time frame, a number of members have gotten jobs. Right now people are getting calls for interviews and are getting jobs. We have also had many people who got a job six months ago and lost that job and are back with us again.”


The meetings serve several purposes  including face-to-face networking, teaching members how to use online social networking, professional development training with special speakers and support from others in the same situation.


“Some people have described our meetings as going to a free seminar. It is about training but it is also a vehicle for job seekers to get together and talk about getting a job. Plus, we are able to address other issues related to job loss,” Rodek said.


According to Rodek, getting a job these days is different. Online social networking has added another dimension to looking for a job. Resumes are reviewed differently by potential employers and need to be written in a different way. It is important today to build a personal and professional brand versus just listing titles and salary. Job interviewing has also experienced a major shift and the group helps each other with  information and best interviewing practices.


A recent training meeting included presenter, Michael Perry, president of Szarka Financial Services in North Olmstead.


Perry told the group, “I think we can all agree that job seeking sucks.”


He went onto tell the group that they are now in the business of you and everyone needs to build a personal brand. Perry also shared personal and professional stories of looking for a job including his own son getting a professional contact from talking with a neighbor mowing his lawn that eventually led to a job.


The group can also help with the emotional side of job loss. Rodek, who has been through a job loss herself, says that job loss is an emotional rollercoaster and emotions can change by the hour.


“The feelings are a combination of the stages of grief one hour and then feelings of elation the next,” Rodek said.


While the group started with job seekers from North Canton, it has expanded to anyone in Stark, Tuscarawas or surrounding areas. “We are really looking for members who are looking for jobs or members that can help others find a job,” Rodek said.


New members will receive a Career Transition Checklist and a short orientation to help decrease the job search learning curve. For more information about the North Canton Executive Networking Group, email Joyce Rodek at jerodek@gmail.com or search for the group at linkdedin.com and join.