Sunday 22 October 2017

My Big Idea: 'We teach people who are out of work how to network and navigate the hidden jobs market'

Peter Johnson: helping jobseekers
Peter Johnson: helping jobseekers

STATISTICS show that people who are unemployed for a year or more find it far harder to find work than those who already have a job and are seeking a new one. Waterford-born Peter Johnson saw that something needed to be done to address this imbalance and provide more support for jobseekers with long gaps in their CVs. He spoke to Sarah McCabe about his idea.

"I FOUNDED Dublin-based Jobnet in 2011 after working with another initiative, Jobcare, a social enterprise whose sole mission is to help get Irish people back to work. During my time there I noticed that the profile of the unemployed had changed, and increasingly included qualified professionals and young graduates – a new type of jobseeker in the Irish market.

"It differs from standard recruitment agencies because most of those work to satisfy the demands of business clients, who generally want to recruit people who are already employed or even working for their competitors. If you happen to be unemployed, this means you don't even get a look in.

"Jobnet helps people bypass this hurdle by showing them how to navigate the hidden jobs market; to find jobs that are not even advertised. It teaches them to network effectively and put themselves in front of those who make the actual recruitment decisions.

"Right now there are about 60 people on the programme. Since October 2011 Jobnet has helped over 500 people; three-fifths have found work or secured further education and training.

"Jobnet now employs six staff and is supported by another group of 10-15 volunteers from the business world who give their time and expertise every week. Corporate supporters include Accenture, Microsoft, Ulster Bank, BNY Mellon, Hays and CPL Recruitment.

FUNDING

"The biggest challenge to running the programme is, and always has been, about funding. Thankfully we are a lean enterprise and make the government and corporate funding that we receive go a long way. Last week we received an Elevator Award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland worth €33,000.

"What would change things radically for the problem we seek to address, of course, is if businesses, when they decide to recruit, tell their HR department or recruitment agency that 'this time, we'd like you to hire someone who has been unemployed'.

"They don't realise just how good many of these people are and how much they have to offer. And not many realise that there are financial incentives available from Government to support this as well."

Irish Independent

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