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Jobs are all temporary, but our identity isn't


Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat helped us begin to see the implications of a world economy linked by technology impacting labor markets and work.  The impact is truly widespread, coming home to people everywhere in many countries where downsizing became commonplace.  The idea of 'permanent' as an adjective for employment is no longer appropriate--it's an oxymoron.


Jim Ware of The Work Design Collaborative recently wrote in their newsletter,  Future of Work:

Organizations are increasingly seeing the concept of long-term, full-time "guaranteed" jobs as inappropriate in a dynamic global economy.  In fact, of course, relying on part-time and temporary labor is nothing new; it's been a way of life in the commercial construction industry for decades—especially for large-scale projects like bridges, dams, military installations, and center-city skyscrapers. Of course, those mega-projects usually take many years to complete, so the work often doesn't feel temporary at the time—but everyone involved knows there's no such thing as a "permanent" construction job.  Variable employment has also been common in aerospace and defense; workers migrate from one company to another as employers win or lose federal contracts. And there are other examples as well in many "civilian" industries like advertising, film production and entertainment, public accounting, and other professional services sectors.


Ware goes on:

What is new, however, is the dramatic increase in the number of firms relying on part-time or contract labor, and in the percentage of the workforce holding "nonstandard" jobs. The Iowa Policy Project, a nonpartisan think tank, estimated that "26% of the U.S. workforce had jobs in 2005 that were in one way or another 'nonstandard.' That includes independent contractors, temps, part-timers, and freelancers" (reported in Business Week).  In fact, National Public Radio (NPR) reported last fall that in the fourth quarter of 2010 fully 68% of U.S.-based hiring was contingent or contract workers.


For those of us who have not as yet realized this shift, the reality can be and is becoming a shocking new sense of how we need to develop and sustain being employable, including learning career redirection skills and keeping our work search skills sharp.


Churches have a new reason to minister to those in career and/or job transition, both out of care and concern for those frequently in these transitions, but also out of concern for being able to sustain ministry in Jesus' name in their communities.  This is also the opportunity to help people realize their identity is not in their occupation, but in being the crown of creation, made by a loving Creator for community as co-creative whole-life stewards.


Future of Work link:


EaRN Work Search Roundtables meet TUESDAYS, WEDNESDAYS and THURSDAYS beginning in September


The longest continuously running job club in West Michigan, EaRN Work Search Roundtable, now has two locations where it meets with a third coming this fall.  The original, pioneering event has been meeting weekly on Tuesdays from 8:30 to 10:30 am at the Spring Arbor University Grand Rapids Center.


As of August 7th, 2012, the Spring Arbor University Grand Rapids Center hosted event now meets at 2620 Horizon Dr SE (in Cascade Township 49546), SAU-GR's new center location.  Coffee is always on, and we usually have bagels or similar fare available...when we're not celebrating someone landing a new job with donuts (which happens regularly)!


Spring Arbor University in Grand Rapids has hosted this weekly coaching and support group throughout the past decade, and will continue to do so as Work Search Roundtable formally becomes another aspect of the ministry of EaRN Employment and Resource Network.  Work Search Roundtable was started by EaRN co-founder Ken Soper in the late 90's and has been continuously meeting supporting the work search activity and networking of 1000's of West Michiganders. 


In September 2001, right after the 9/11 tragedies, Roundtable went online to expand the reach and connection of those seeking new work and gaining even when reemployed to remain employable. The Roundtable online presence continues here at the EaRN website and with a group on LinkedIn, EaRN Work Search Roundtable.  With the birth and recent growth of EaRN ministries at local churches, Work Search Roundtable has become EaRN Work Search Roundtable to indicate its enfolding into the EaRN ministry.


EaRN Work Search Roundtable at Spring Arbor's Grand Rapids Center is open to the public.  There is a nominal donation suggested for each week’s session at the SAU-GR location.  However, for attendees who are coming by referral from EaRN Affiliate ministries, there is no a donation expected.  All contributions are tax deductible, however, and help the Roundtable support and encourage current and future job-seekers.


Individuals are asked to register for the Spring Arbor University-hosted weekly event (except the week of the Christmas and if New Year’s Day falls on a Tuesday) by going to, clicking on the calendar date, then the event, and using the “Register Now” function at the bottom of the screen.

Several TV and radio stations as well as The Grand Rapids Press have done reports on this weekly event during the past decade. WOOD-TV 8 did a report on the Work Search Roundtables in early 2009. There’s the link: Networking is the key.

A second EaRN Work Search Roundtable meets WEDNESDAYS every other week, 9:30-11:30 am at St Robert of Newminster Parish, 6477 Ada Dr. SE, Ada, Michigan.  The meeting is in the Parish Adult Lounge. See their site or call them,, (616) 676-9111 for more information, or contact their Career Transition / EaRN Ministry Coordinator, Bill Weitzel, LMSW, (616) 446-1873 (c),


Coming in September 2012, a third EaRN Work Search Roundtable will start up at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Grand Rapids, meeting on Thursday morning.  More information will be forthcoming in the late summer.

Training is also available to churches and other non-profits interested in learning how to develop, launch and facilitate EaRN Work Search Roundtables as an integral part of building an EaRN Employment and Resource Network ministry and outreach through their churches.

8 stories of interviewees who hit homeruns


Eight Job-Interview Wins for the Record Book, by Liz Ryan, BusinessWeek's Corporate Provocateur blog, May 27, 2011


Liz Ryan, a former human resources director, recalls some applicants who impressed their way into getting instant job offers.

"After revealing tales of job applicants who disappointed, disconcerted, or generally weirded me out in my last column, I thought it only fair to share stories about prospective employees who surprised me in positive ways. Even in lean times, job candidates who show that they know what an employer is up against and have insight into how to make things more effective are always in short supply. Here are eight stories of job-seekers who made good by standing in their power and helping employers see their value."


Read the full article at

Are 'acquaintances' more important than 'friends' in networking? Can you really prioritize these connections?


John Agno, writing in his “The Leadership Blog” (August 18, 2009) said:

“When it comes to finding out about new jobs--or, for that matter, new information, or new ideas—‘weak ties’ are always more important than strong ties. Your friends, after all, occupy the same world that you do. Your acquaintances, on the other hand, by definition occupy a very different world than you. They are much more likely to know something that you don't.

“Sociologist Mark Granovetter, in his classic 1974 study ‘Getting a Job,’ looked at several hundred professional and technical workers from Boston suburb of Newton, interviewing them in some detail on their employment history. He found 56 percent of those he talked to found their job through a personal connection. People weren't getting their jobs through their friends. They were getting them through their acquaintances.

“Acquaintances, in short, represent a source of social capital, and the more acquaintances you have the more powerful you are.”

I'd argue, however, that a diverse set of friends versus only having friends who are just like you is an even more powerful combination, powerful for you and your networks. -Ken Soper