Overcoming Challenges–It’s All in Your Head

Overcoming a challenge requires hard work—hard work that starts in your head.

What you think about the challenge you are facing defines your plan of action and influences the outcome. You may be facing a career change because your job no longer exists or maybe you have to get a degree today that was not required 10 years ago. Whatever it is you have to stay positive and recognize every situation as an opportunity to move forward.

Don’t believe me? We asked Bill, Jacquelyn, and Gerry how they overcame the challenges in their job search—here is what they had to say:

Application Support Administrator, 5 Steps Graduate, Workshop Participant
Biggest Challenge: “There were lots of good people looking for work. Supply exceeded demand in the market for my job.”
Advice: “Keep positive, keep working at it, and use multiple approaches. You never know which one will work. The time to build networking relationships is now. They can be very useful in search, but are most effective when not superficial. If you try to build them when your search starts, you will increase the time to reap the benefit.”

Project Manager, Workshop Participant
Biggest Challenge: “My mindset! At the onset of my job search I felt inferior, incapable, discarded. I decided that this was NOT the case, and that instead I was unprepared. This led me to search for and find resources that I needed for a new position.”
Advice: “Be open to new ideas because the world where you will be working is constantly changing. Keep a positive attitude as you are your best ally. Work at it even if you are uncomfortable… you will become comfortable in time. Find out how to network and just start practicing. Do what you’re taught in the workshops don’t just learn about it. Help others around you through encouragement and sharing what you know…it takes the focus off of yourself.”

Analyst, 5 Steps Graduate, Workshop Participant
Biggest Challenge: “I had been employed for almost 36 years so the mental aspect of being unemployed and learning what to do next were my challenges.”
Advice for Job Seekers: “Take advantage of the support that exists in the Rochester area for people in your position (Not only at RochesterWorks! but The August Group and all the other networking groups in our area). Stay positive and believe in yourself!”

Regardless of the challenge that you are facing take the advice of Bill, Jacquelyn, and Gerry and stay positive! Choose to believe that you have value then communicate that value to others.

Each one of our success stories can tell you that it won’t be easy. When you get discouraged find a support group to encourage you throughout the process whether it’s your family, friends, a local networking group, or staff members at RochesterWorks! You don’t have to go through your job search alone. There are people and resources available to help you. All you have to do is ask.

Click Here For more information about RochesterWorks! and the programs available to you, then visit our Career Center! Our services are free and walk-in’s are welcome. You do not need to be unemployed to participate. You just need to be a RochesterWorks! member.

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Innovative Solutions: Investing in Growth and Community


If you think you know about IT, think again.

Innovative Solutions has redefined IT by focusing not only on technology, but on the information that precedes every decision to embrace it. From the top-down, Innovative Solutions is committed to the people, talent, and business in our community and it is this dedication that has fueled the growth of their team to include the 70 employees that it has today.
As a long-time partner and advocate for RochesterWorks! and our community, the team at Innovative Solutions takes every opportunity to utilize the resources available in Rochester to fuel their growth and reinvest in our local workforce. The greatest example by far of their dedication is their use of training grants as a tool to attract and retain local talent through continuous training and career development.

Keep reading to learn more about Innovative Solutions and find out how the resources at RochesterWorks! have helped them to thrive in our community.

About Innovative
Based in Rochester, NY, Innovative Solutions has provided people with the information they need to make the best IT decisions possible for over 25 years. Their services include IT consulting, implementation, and support. As the area’s largest IT consultancy for small to mid-sized businesses, Innovative Solutions helps move businesses and people forward by aligning IT to business goals, enabling client success.

Interview with Innovative Solutions Team

In August we met with the team at Innovative Solutions to talk about their experiences with our Business Services Team and the training grant process. Keep reading to find out what they had to say!

Describe your company’s role in the community.
Our role in the community is vast. We work with small to medium businesses as the IT department for their company. From the top down we love Rochester’s community and find it very important to keep the talent here locally. We’re blessed to have places like RIT here so we offer a career path so that talent stays here.
Community involvement is also very important to us. We’re consistently giving back and reinvesting in the community that has facilitated our growth. We mentor students and teach them about our industry. We recently also assisted a young entrepreneur with a website he developed under a grant program.

What is the biggest challenge that you face in finding the right employees for your company?

We’re all about culture here so I think that’s where our biggest challenge is. It’s very rare to find a company like ourselves. We almost don’t exist anywhere else not only from a business perspective with what we do in the community, but how we are as a group and how we interact. We really look for “geeks with personalities,” that is, candidates with technical expertise as well as an outgoing and relatable personality.

What advice do you have for local businesses considering getting involved with programs available at RochesterWorks?
Pick up the phone. It’s so simple! You just need to meet them! When we work with RochesterWorks!, we do our best to make sure that they have all of the information necessary to speak with candidates on our behalf so that we have the perfect alignment that we strive for in our internal hiring process.

Tell us about your experiences with the
Training Grant process at RochesterWorks.
“I actually think RochesterWorks! is too much of a secret here in Rochester. Anybody that has had bad experiences dealing with grants needs to know that it’s not the nightmare that it used to be 10-15 years ago.
One of the things that RochesterWorks! has certainly done over the years is coming out on-site to help us through and simplify the paperwork process so that we actually can take advantage of it! It’s one of the things that I talk to our clients about all the time. You’re missing great opportunities to leverage if you don’t take advantage of these opportunities.
I don’t want to see the programs go away. It’s these programs that have helped Rochester grow throughout the years. We need more organizations that help Rochester move forward. That is why we believe in spreading the word. It’s a good thing. I don’t want to see it disappear. The grants have actually assisted in our growth so we’re able to take the dollars that we would have used for training and reinvest them back into our organization. Without all of the grants that we have gotten over the years we would be behind again, not growing.”-Bob Titus, Partner

innovativesolutions01Bob Titus, Partner, with OJT Grant Hire Scott Noble

On the Job Training Grant Program Example
We first met Scott at the RochesterWorks! Annual Career Conference in January. We hired him through the On-the-Job Training Grant (OJT) program and received $5,000 to reimburse part of his wages to cover training costs. Scott, now a PC Technician, had over 10 years of experience in IT sales when he was laid off. The OJT program allowed Scott to transition from the sales environment of the industry to hands-on IT work.

I didn’t have the real world experience to work hands-on in IT, but it was a good point in my life to transition…When I went to the Career Conference in January I had targets. I was not going to go and window shop. I knew why I was there, I was focused, and I had a plan. When I first made the decision to transition to IT I was excited about the change that I had created for myself. It was exciting to realize that there is a job out there where I could enjoy what I’m doing and learn like crazy. The real world experience is what I was lacking and I’m getting it more than I ever imagined at Innovative Solutions.”—Scott

As an employer, what advice do you have for job seekers?

Our mission is to ensure that our clients have all of the information to make the best decisions. We make sure that right from the moment we hire and start with new applicants coming in that they understand who Innovative is so that they’re also making the right choice. We are a rare commodity in the IT industry. Our outgoing company culture is very important to us so we really look for continuous learners that have an inbred curiosity about the IT industry.
Before you start looking for any job you have to have a ‘why’ for yourself. What is your purpose for going out and getting employed? Are you looking for a job or a career? Figure out how you want to make a difference, how you want to move the world forward, how you want to be a continuous learner throughout your life, and how can you apply that ‘why’ to an organization that also believes in why we are here. At Innovative we know that we aren’t the right fit for everyone and that’s okay. You have to know what you’re going for and wait for that perfect alignment.

Where do you share information about your job postings?

All of our current openings are posted on our website at www.innovativesol.com. We also share our leads with RochesterWorks! and various recruiting agencies as well as on college websites, Career Builder, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Dice. We also have an excellent referral incentive program for our employees.

Click Here
to Learn More about Innovative Solutions.

Click Here to Learn More about Training Grants and the Resources Available through the RochesterWorks! Business Services Team.

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Meet Our Summer Employment Program Youth All-Stars


For six weeks this summer over 900 youth were given the opportunity to gain work experience, meet new people, and learn new skills through summer work experience programs.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), in collaboration with the City of Rochester’s Summer of Opportunity Program (SOOP), provided youth with six weeks of paid work experience through work sites and projects all across the county.

This year RochesterWorks!, through the SYEP program, placed nearly 500 youth in over 70 different work sites and projects. Of these youth we have chosen 7 to represent this year’s Summer All-Stars. Our All-Stars took advantage of the opportunity and went above and beyond to learn new skills and explore future career opportunities.

Keep reading to find out what they enjoyed about the Summer Youth Employment Program!

Jomar, 17
Emerge Partners, Inc.
Future Computer Programmer or Technician
“This summer was my first time working in a business environment. I learned so much from the people I work with. The world is getting more technical and over the past six weeks I gained a lot of experience working with computers.”

 Angela, 16
Memorial Art Gallery
Future Nurse
“My favorite part of the summer was learning as well as working. It’s been a great experience. At first I came in so nervous, but it has prepped me for a year-round job. ”

 AJ, 17
Cornell Cooperative Extension for Monroe County
Future Chef or Marine
“This program helped me to learn skills that I can use in the future. It was great to get out of the house and meet new people. I also learned a lot from my supervisor. She taught me how to be organized and stay on track.”

John, 17
ARC of Monroe County
Future Graphic Designer
“Growing up I had to rely a lot on myself. This program helped me to figure out that you can rely on other people. It also gave me the experience to figure out how to get where I want to be.”

RochesterWorks_Priya_photoPriya, 16
Regional Center for Independent Living
Future Lawyer
“I loved learning about and creating a website with my coworkers. I also enjoyed the community outreach we did. We put on a poetry slam and helped out at the ADA picnic.”

RochesterWorks_SharRon_photoSha-Ron, 17
Youth Exploring Entrepreneurial Program
Future U.S. Marshall
“My favorite part of the summer program was developing my own business. I created a sports drink called Infinity Sports Drink. I also learned how to handle myself under pressure and I was able to develop my public speaking skills.”

Kaniya_photoKaniya, 16
BioDrill Technologies Inc.
Future Business Woman or Accountant
“I appreciate that people took the time to consider my generation and our future. Everyone really took time to work with us and I feel lucky to have had this experience.”

Whether you are a business or a youth, it is an incredible opportunity that you do not want to miss out on!

Our Summer All-Stars took advantage of it! Will you?

Click here to learn more about the Summer Youth Employment Program! Applications for the 2015 program will be accepted again in the spring.

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Top Tips from ABVI-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes Presentation


Each month RochesterWorks! features a business in Monroe County that is noted for their dedication to recruiting and using RochesterWorks! services. During the month we spotlight their company on our website and give them an opportunity to share tips and information about their business with interested job seekers.

In August we invited The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI)-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes to be our Business of the Month. At their presentation a representative from the Human Resources team here in Rochester shared stories, insight, and tips with for job seekers interested in employment.

Keep reading to find out what we learned.

ABVI-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes empowers people with barriers to independence to be self-sufficient through unique job training and employment opportunities in retail stores, donation centers, state-of-the-art call center and a food service program. Headquartered here in Rochester ABVI-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes employs over 800 people in a 20-county territory.

You may know ABVI-Goodwill for its donated goods retail stores, but there is a lot more to learn. Let’s see how much you know about the organization. We can’t cover everything, but here is some of what we learned during the presentation in August.

Did you know?

  • They offer Career Training and Assistance for anyone who is visually impaired.
  • Representatives can act as a liaison for job seekers needing assistance in speaking with a company about visual impairment.
  • They serve 800-1200 meals a day through their Food Service program.
  • They operate a Low Vision Center to help people adapt to their visual impairment.
  • They have developed an e-commerce site to sell donated specialty and electronic goods.
  • They operate a 2/47 “2-1-1 Lifeline” for crisis/suicide intervention and information and referral services in 6 counties. Their operators also assist with Facebook’s program to help users anonymously contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on behalf of at-risk users. Once notified an anonymous message is sent to the at-risk user offering assistance and encouraging them to call the Lifeline.

An Insider’s Tips for Job Seekers

  • Ban the Box Initiative
    • On our applications we have removed the question about criminal records to help those who have made mistakes in the past to move forward. Many people are unsure of what and when to disclose in these instances so we give them an opportunity to discuss this question in an interview instead of on an application.
  • Qualifications
    • If you don’t exactly meet the qualifications for a position, but can make a case as to why your experience measures up go ahead and apply! In some cases, for example, a Doctor of Optometry, we cannot adjust our qualifications. For others we’re willing to give you a chance!
  • Stand Out from the Competition
    • Know why you want to join our team. We look for people who have targeted our organization because you believe in what do we do. We are proud to work here and we want to know that you would fit in.
    • Apply with attitude. If you think, “I’ll never hear back from them,” it’s likely that you might be right. Be confident and prepared to move ahead in the process.
    • Be professional in every detail. Make sure that your email address, voice mail message, and ring back tone don’t give us a reason to stop moving you along in the process.
  • Working at ABVI-Goodwill
    • The atmosphere at work is welcoming, open, and encouraging every day. You can really see how the job you’re doing directly benefits our community.

How to Apply for Jobs at ABVI-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes

  1. Find current openings at http://www.goodwillfingerlakes.com/Careers and apply online.
  2. Carefully read the job description. Some positions have the requirement of being visually impaired, while others do not.
  3. Check back often, we are growing! We update our current openings every Monday.
    Please Note: If you are interested in our organization, but don’t see a specific posting online don’t submit a general application. We cannot process your application until it is attached to a specific opening.
  4. Remember that we are your advocate to the hiring manager. It is our job to make sure that you’re not only capable of doing the job, but are a good fit as well with the company and the team you would be joining. Have a clear understanding of yourself and your goals then clearly communicate your interest to us.

Volunteer with Us!

Think about how often you read your mail, drive your car, and shop at the grocery store. Now think about how hard those tasks would be if you were visually impaired. When you volunteer with ABVI-Goodwill you have the opportunity to invest in the lives of members of our community that aren’t able to do many of those tasks on their own. The opportunities to get involved are endless and every minute matters even if you only have one hour a year to help.
Opportunities include Drivers, Personal Readers, Personal Shoppers, Vision Services, Children’s Programs, and Special Events.
For more information contact the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@abvi-goodwill.com or call (585) 232-1111.

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How to Revamp Your Job Search Strategy

Workshop Participant

After two months and over one hundred applications Gary realized that his job search needed a change—a change that brought him to RochesterWorks! At first Gary thought RochesterWorks! was only available for those on unemployment, but he soon realized that it is available to help anyone that lives in Monroe County.

Taking the initiative to make a change made the difference in Gary’s successful job search landing him a new job as a Plating Manufacturing Engineer at the Eastman Kodak Company.

Gary learned a lot of lessons during his job search and wants to share them with you today to help you in your own job search.

Keep reading to learn from his experience and find out why it’s valuable to help others along the way!

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in being unemployed?
A: I started searching in late September after resigning from a previous job. Initially, using traditional methods, I did not have much luck. After over 100 applications with not a single bite, I learned that getting to the interview today is not what it used to be.

Q: What job search methods did you use?
A: I joined some networking groups and signed up at RochesterWorks to do several workshops.

Q: What tips do you have for job seekers to help increase their success and shorten their length of unemployment?
A: Do the workshops at RochesterWorks You might know most of how job searching works, but there’s always a nugget of information that might make all the difference or you’ll meet someone that can help you get your resume where it needs to be or your mind-set where that needs to be!
One of the biggest challenges in my job search was the lack of feedback and unless you immerse yourself into networking and the workshops at RochesterWorks the lack of feedback can be very demoralizing. You need to find a support group.

Q: How did RochesterWorks! help you in finding your new position?
A: RochesterWorks helped me to revise my resume and LinkedIn profiles and change my focus to utilize networking. The workshops taught me how to reorganize my job search, develop a marketing plan, enhance my resume and better leverage my network of friends and acquaintances.

Q: If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently in your job search?
A: If I had to start over I would have embarked on the process of RochesterWorks sooner. Listen to what you’re being asked to do and do it. I went through 2 1/2 months of job searching before I realized that what I was doing wasn’t working the way it had in the past.

Q: Do you have any other words of advice for job seekers?
A: Network not just for yourself, but also to help others. Realize that it’s not about you and be willing to give more than you take. I learned that the people who were selfless received help back and found work faster than those that went along with a ‘help me’ attitude.

Click Here For more information about RochesterWorks! and the programs available to you, then visit our Career Center! Our services are free and walk-in’s are welcome. You do not need to be unemployed to participate. You just need to be a RochesterWorks! member.

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How to Build Your Experience with Contract Work


5 Steps Graduate

Benefits and risks accompany every situation in life. Contract work is no exception. While it’s not the best for everyone it can give you an opportunity to expand your experience with no strings attached as you look for a full-time position in your industry.

For Carol, the decision to embrace contract work during her job search led to a long line of technical experience that helped her to land her new job as a Project Manager for eHealth Technologies.

Instead of looking at the time in between jobs as a waste of time Carol built relationships that over time led to meeting the right people at the right time to land her a job at one of her target companies.

Keep reading to learn from Carol’s experience and apply her tips to your own job search today!

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in being unemployed?
A: The wait was the hardest challenge in my job search. There are a lot of people unemployed and competing for the same jobs. With my history in contract work my full time job became finding a job. It isn’t the best method for everyone but it broadened my horizons, introduced me to new companies, and allowed for income.

Q: What job search methods did you use?
A: I looked for work using a variety of methods including internet postings, agencies, networking, Craigslist, career fairs, and professional organizations.
My first contact with eHealth Technologies was at the Digital Rochester Career Fair. I almost didn’t go, but I was meeting with a recruiter who was going to be there. I hadn’t seen the list of companies, but I knew some of the companies that were going to be there so I went.

Q: What tips do you have for job seekers to help increase their success and shorten their length of unemployment?
A: Attitude is everything. If you feel confident, it will come through. If you are nervous and desperate, that too will come through.
Ask good questions of the company. Remember this is a two way dialog between people. I often asked “If this were six months from now and I exceeded expectations. What would I have done?” This is an opportunity to learn more about their expectations.

Q: How did RochesterWorks! help you in finding your new position?
A: 5 Steps prepared me by having a much improved resume, a reference portfolio, and the ability to shine during the interview. When the opportunity arose to pull out a case study and distribute it to the interviewers, I seemed organized and felt like a cut above the rest.
Job Strategy Group reinforced what I knew and shed some light on some new things. I was exposed to new companies through presentations and attended workshops with guest speakers. I benefited most from one presentation by Beth Sears.

Q: If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently in your job search?
A: I would work smarter. I didn’t spend as much time on line looking and driving myself crazy. I spent more time networking with other people I knew, volunteering, and working with recruiters. I knew that I could spend 60+ hours a week on the computer or I could go out and meet people. Personal always works better than the online stuff.

Q: What led to your success?
A: Being diligent in my follow-up after discussions and interviews led to my success. I also feel that I made it clear that I wanted to work for the company and reiterated that in my thank you notes. I had a sense of humor throughout the interview and used it appropriately.

Q: Do you have any other words of advice for job seekers?
A: Act friendly because you never know when you might need the relationships that you are building.
Follow through—with email & thank you notes—in the right way. I also suggest that you bring a portfolio to the interview and show examples as you discuss them.
I remember Mike Chabilik saying that we are all in sales. It’s important to sell yourself in the right way so keep the WIFM (What’s in it for me?) mentality in mind.

Click Here For more information about RochesterWorks! and the programs available to you, then visit our Career Center! Our services are free and walk-in’s are welcome. You do not need to be unemployed to participate. You just need to be a RochesterWorks! member.


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Job Search Resources Everyone Should Know About

Job Search Resources Everyone Should Know AboutShelly
5 Steps Graduate

Timing is everything—especially when you’re looking for work. If you’ve lost your job you know all too well of the panic that sets in as you begin your job search. You need a job! In fact, you needed it yesterday.

After twenty-five years with her previous employer, Shelly realized that she had a lot to re-learn about the job search process. RochesterWorks became her resource center for the latest tips, tools, and strategies—something she says was crucial to her being able to land as the Senior Director of Human Resources & Talent Management at Jordan Health.

Shelly learned that timing is everything in a job search. Regardless of whether you’re enjoying your newfound “free time” or making the most of every minute to look for work, if you don’t manage time it will manage you.

Keep reading to learn from Shelly’s job search and find out why she says you need to make RochesterWorks! the first stop on your job search journey.

Shelly’s Interview

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in being unemployed?

I had been with my previous employer for almost 25 years which proved to be a job search enabler in terms of the level of progressive work experience I could offer a new employer, but a barrier in terms of being up to date on how to navigate the new world of job seeking.
Although I knew in my head that I would experience a grief cycle as a result of job loss, I did not allow myself time to process these emotions. I felt the pressure to jump in and start my job search and simultaneously get smart on the latest job search trends and tools.

Q: What job search methods did you use?


Q: What tips do you have for job seekers to help increase their success and shorten their length of unemployment?

  1. IMMEDIATELY connect personally with RochesterWorks!
  2. Take full advantage of the excellent resources provided by the knowledgeable and compassionate team at RochesterWorks!
  3. Learn how to conduct an effective job campaign and thrive in the new workplace through the 5 Steps to Rapid Employment course.
  4. Embrace the art of connecting with people (aka “networking” ).


Q: How did RochesterWorks! help you in finding your new position?
RochesterWorks! guided me through the important “front-end personal work” that MUST be addressed before developing a job campaign strategy and action plan. They provided me with the tools to plan and conduct an effective job campaign and offered programs that encouraged resource sharing among job seekers (Job Strategy Group). One of these tools included “contacts” within my target organizations to learn more about them before applying or taking my first interview.

Q: If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently in your job search?
I didn’t take the 5 Steps course until I had been out for work for 3 months. In hindsight, I would have taken it within the first month of unemployment.

Q: What led to your success?
I give glory to God for my success in finding re-employment. Nothing in this process was coincidental. I was led to the right people and the right resources at the right time. The end result is an employer who sees value in my skills and past experiences and we share the high potential for mutual success.

Q: Do you have any other words of advice for job seekers?
Literally “plan your work and work your plan” and make adjustments on the way if needed. It helped me to know that my calendar had meaningful goal-related activities each day.

During the nine months I was unemployed there were moments where I felt like the campaign process would never end. I learned that at those moments it was OK to take a breather and take some “self-care” time to re-charge. After all, job seeking is indeed a full-time job and full-time jobs require periods of rest to recharge physically and emotionally.


Click Here for more information about RochesterWorks! and the programs available to you, then visit our Career Center! Our services are free and walk-in’s are welcome. You do not need to be unemployed to participate. You just need to be a RochesterWorks! member.

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