Help Wanted: With Unemployment Surging During COVID-19, JCS Offers Job Placement


As businesses continue to shut down and send workers home, many are left feeling uneasy about job stability and the overall economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here in Maryland, over 41,000 people have filed unemployment claims this past week alone according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Local career centers have been busy as many Marylanders facing unemployment turn to them for support and assistance. The career services center at Jewish Community Services (JCS), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, has noticed a surge in job postings in certain fields related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Lisa Gorman, Senior Manager of Career Services at JCS, works with people of every age and background as well as employers to assist with job placement and fulfillment.

“Our account reps are working hard every day to identify exactly where the job openings are and who is hiring,” says Gorman. “What’s different now is that the focus is on certain industries such as food service, delivery services and healthcare.”

JCS plans to offer online career workshops and resume reviews that are typically done in person.

While many retailers have closed their doors for now, online shopping for essential goods and foods and other online apps has drastically increased and this has resulted in an increase in job openings as well.

“Online companies like Rosetta Stone are hiring thousands of people for customer service because everybody’s learning new languages now that they are stuck at home.  Online businesses are starting to hire, which is kind of awesome because it’s all remote work and a lot of people are able to do that right now,“ explains Gorman.

Gorman says that this is a great time to refresh resumes and LinkedIn profiles, even if you currently have a job.

“We know that people get hired during economic shifts. Now is a great time to connect on LinkedIn and conduct informational interviews or have coffee chats and network. We are here to help clients brush up on their interviewing skills so that they’re ready to hit the ground running when these job offers come their way.”

JCS plans to offer online career workshops and resume reviews that are typically done in person.

“We hope we can reach and help more people during this challenging time and are looking for unique ways to meet their needs,” Gorman adds. 

In addition to helping clients with job applications, resume writing and mock interviews, the staff at the career center works to reinforce basic social and conversational skills that is now being conducted virtually.

Andrea Fenwick, Senior Manager of Employment Support Services at JCS says she is working with existing clients in addition to receiving new referrals.

“We are seeing a slight uptick in the number of calls for employment support,” Fenwick shares. “While some stores and businesses are laying people off, a good many are up and running. Their doors may be closed, but they are still open for business. Either way, people still need jobs.”

Fenwick works with individuals with disabilities ranging from mental health to physical and cognitive impairment. Typically, she and her team provide job coaching, interview training and resume writing services to clients throughout the Baltimore area. Since many of their clients require assistance with social skills, JCS has gotten creative with how they provide these community- based activities in today’s climate.

“We have to conduct activities in a group setting for our pre-employment clients because community-based programming promotes social interaction and inclusion that will assist individuals in the workplace once they land a job, and that is how the service model is funded ,” explains Fenwick. “Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have come up with virtual opportunities for people to meet in a group setting, such as online Zumba, cooking classes and morning coffee meet-ups.”

“We are still providing the same level of support. We’re just being creative in the way we do it,” adds Fenwick.

For more information about virtual opportunities through JCS career center visit jcsbaltimore.org or facebook.com/jcsbaltimore.

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