An assumption is often made that being homeless is always linked to an addiction, a criminal record, or a mental disorder rendering a person unable to work. There have always been those who choose to live on the streets because of their inability to cope with society, but more recently, with the economic downturn, we have heard stories of people just down on their luck–laid off, bills too expensive–and honestly searching for work. Now they (and those trying to make a change in their lives) are competing with a different breed for the jobs they are going for–those with degrees and ample experience, with shiny resumes and honed skills in interviewing, searching for jobs they are overqualified for to be able to keep their own homes.
We began hosting monthly resume and interview workshops at Atlanta Mission in the fall of 2009 as a way to address this problem. Recently we have also begun offering similar job prep classes at Central Union Mission in Washington, D.C.
In Atlanta, on the first Monday of every month, a group of volunteers help clients draft, perfect, or correct resumes. Our volunteers bring their laptops and we supply a printer so that the gentlemen walk away with hard copies. We also give the men thumbdrives and set up email addresses for those that need one, so they have access to their fresh resume in a digital format.
On the second Monday of every month, in Atlanta, we have an interview workshop, in which knowledgeable volunteers give practical advice on how to interview successfully. Attendees practice their talking points, how to ask the right questions, and all aspects of interviewing, even down to the handshake.