Leslie, Debt Counselor

Learning to embrace the new opportunities that a career change affords can be invigorating or frightening depending on your outlook. For Leslie, her decision to focus on the former was the key to her success. Having spent years in the food service industry, Leslie knew that the time had come to change her career to match the needs of her growing family.

Prior experience with our staff brought Leslie to RochesterWorks. The wide variety of programs and personal assistance convinced her that changing careers was a real possibility.  After meeting with Career Service Advisors, creating a plan, and overhauling her resume Leslie jumped into her job campaign by applying for jobs, attending job fairs, and building her network. Today, as a Debt Counselor for ConServe, Leslie is grateful for those at RochesterWorks that inspired her to pursue a new opportunity and a new career.

Keep reading for Leslie’s full interview to learn about her experience and advice for job seekers!


Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced in being unemployed?
A:  Managing the anxiety of financial pressures, along with my career change, was the biggest challenge in my job search. I knew that I wanted to do something different, but wasn’t sure what or how that could happen. At first I wasn’t worried, because I had the support of my family and friends, but over time it became harder and more discouraging.
I came to RochesterWorks because I knew that I needed help. I knew that I wanted to change career paths, but trying to relate my skills to something different was hard. It sounds so easy, but it’s difficult to combine two things and present it so that it makes sense to someone else.

Q: What job search methods did you use?
A:  When I started looking for work, I applied for everything! From online job postings, job fairs, networking, and Recruiting Round Rochester, I tried to take advantage of everything available to me.  I also took advantage of the Resource Room, the RochesterWorks Virtual Career Center, and the Department of Labor website.

Q: What tips do you have for job seekers to help increase their success and shorten their length of unemployment?
A: Prepare. Take a look at the job and find out what they are looking for, then customize everything to fit that job. If you think about what they want and just do the minimum then you have a lot of people doing the same thing to get by.
You need to do something to help you stand out. Go above and beyond and do all of the little extra details. When I interviewed for jobs, I wrote thank you notes even if I didn’t get the job. If the person they do hire doesn’t work out for them, thank you notes can make a big difference.

Q: How did RochesterWorks! help you find your new position?
A:  Initially I heard about RochesterWorks through unemployment, but when I came back for help with my job search, I realized that there are a massive amount of opportunities. I found that I worked better individually with one of the advisors, but there are a lot of programs to help you no matter who you are.
When I first met with an Advisor I was frustrated with my job search. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I had gotten a few interviews, but I wasn’t getting flooded with calls. She sat down with me and said, “Let’s just take a look at everything and figure out what you think you’ll be good at and what skills you have that can help you in a new job.” She really helped me to gather my ideas into something that made sense. It was, in fact, my Advisor that recommended that I apply for my position at ConServe.
I also attended Resume Review which was phenomenal! Not only did it give me a chance to have someone look over my resume, but everybody gave me pointers, tips, and critiques, so that I got different points of view. When I went in to an interview I didn’t know who was going to be looking at it, but I knew that somehow we pulled everybody’s perspective and applied it to my resume, so it can appeal to anyone.

Q: If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently in your job search?
A:  I would have come to RochesterWorks sooner and would have tried to make a better plan from the beginning. At first, I applied everywhere with one resume and submitted it everywhere that I could online. I was all over the place! I think that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do and gear everything to that. My advice is to not let your anxiety take over. Focus in on a few key jobs, while keeping your options open, and show them that you can do that job. You need to be realistic, but clear about why you are a good fit.

Q: Do you have any other words of advice for job seekers?
A: I think it is really important, once you go into the interview, to remember that they aren’t just interviewing you. You are also interviewing them. You need to decide if that job is really going to be a good fit for you and if you are really going to be able to excel and grow in that job. I think that a lot of people take the first job that is offered to them because they are looking for work, but are really disappointed. They might not work as hard, dread going to work every day, and then they keep finding themselves in the same situation over and over again. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs. Sometimes you may need to back out of a position after an interview—employers appreciate that! They respect you and if something comes up in the future that is a better fit, maybe they will remember you and call!

Click here for more information about RochesterWorks! and the programs available to you. 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.

Click here for information about ConServe and How They Connect with Local Job Seekers through RochesterWorks.


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