By Cathy Yen
Our local talent pool is one of our community's best assets. If only we could tap into it better.
A few weeks ago, the Chamber posted a vaguely-worded job description for a few part-time slots. The response was overwhelming. I received over seventy resumes, mostly from women, many of them mothers, all living in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park.
The breadth of experience and talent was humbling. I was astounded at the number of high-powered people willing to take a part-time, low-paying position in order to contribute professionally and still actively participate in community and family.
Looking back, I did the same thing over a decade ago when I decided that the path through Corporate America, while open to me, took me to a place I did not want to go. I walked away and reinvented myself locally. Yet, despite my own journey, I was surprised to learn how many women (and a few men) are at that same place today.
These talented people still need the same two things I did: flexibility and professionalism. They seek positions that can bend and flow around the timing and uncertainties of caring for families. Community volunteering, elder care, school drop-offs, soccer practice, sick days and summer. As an employer, if you can work around these, you can access an amazing group of people.
Secondly, we are educated and experienced. We may not want to put on a suit every day, but we do want to participate in a world that values us professionally. We want to contribute to our chosen field, using our training and hard-won skills. Volunteering is fine, but it cannot always replace a job.
For those seeking employment: social media matters. LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs help build your brand. You will learn about openings and people will learn about you.
The Chamber will announce our new team shortly. I am thrilled but there are so many available, incredible professionals for whom I had no budget. To those businesses needing a little help and willing to be flexible: ask, seek. An army of impressive people is right here, looking for an opportunity to contribute.