Central Minnesota Job Transitions Group meets each Wednesday

It’s not easy being laid off, fired or in between jobs, but a volunteer group based in St. Cloud can help those looking for a new job by providing them with support and networking opportunities.

Sharon Sorenson and Mike Lamb are volunteers with Central Minnesota Job Transitions Group, a St. Cloud-based group that helps people who have been laid off, fired or are looking for a new job. Photo by Frank Lee

Sharon Sorenson and Mike Lamb are volunteers with Central Minnesota Job Transitions Group, a St. Cloud-based group that helps people who have been laid off, fired or are looking for a new job. Photo by Frank Lee

meets from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Wednesdays at St. John’s Episcopal Church, and includes presentations and skill development for attendees.

“When I first got involved in the group, it was just like, ‘OK, I don’t have to explain to people I’m unemployed. I don’t have to feel bad about being unemployed. It’s just who I am,’” said Mike Lamb, a 55-year-old divorced father of three from Albany who was laid off in 2012.

According to the group’s organizers, about 300 people have attended the group’s programming, and more than 30 presenters have volunteered their time, talent and skills. In addition, almost 20 employers have offered support by reviewing resumes of those participating in the group.

Central Minnesota Job Transitions Group has held three nonprofit and volunteer job fairs and at least once a year, hosts a resume review and interview rehearsal event, offering complimentary headshots to those in transition, whether that means those in between jobs or wanting a new job.

“The first job I was actually fired from and that brings about a whole other realm of emotions, such as self-worth and wondering what could I be doing better. And the others in the group understood what I was going through, and they helped me through it,” Lamb said. “But being fired opened up lots of possibilities. It kind of freed me from what I was doing to explore other things.”

Lamb, a licensed social worker, is a support planner/caregiver consultant with Rural Stearns Faith in Action in Cold Spring who volunteers with Central Minnesota Job Transitions Group.

“I was just trying to regroup and retrain, and a friend of mine had invited me to come,” Lamb said of his first time attending a group meeting. “During that initial meeting, there were a number of people who were looking for work in a variety of different positions.”

Speakers at the meetings present a variety of topics on hard and soft skills: cover letters, resumes, interviewing, self-esteem, body language, financial management in times of unemployment, area resources, skills assessment and more.

“I learned a lot about the tactical ways of finding a job,” Lamb said of Central Minnesota Job Transitions Group, which celebrated four years in February and now includes a Facebook page.

Sharon Sorenson is another volunteer with Central Minnesota Job Transitions Group and owns her own organizing business. The wife and mother hails from Clearwater.

“I had a first career that I wasn’t really happy in, but I stayed in it, and then I retired early, and then I re-careered doing something I really loved,” Sorenson said.

“People come into the job market assuming they will have more than one career if not several, and I think this sort of group is a really good way for people to get out there and start examining in a guided way, ‘What are my strengths, and how can I work and be happy at the same time?’”

For more information about Central Minnesota Transitions Group, call 320-267-4120 or visit the group’s website at www.jobtransitions.org.