By Lisa Dellinger
What started out as one man’s offer to help a few people find jobs has turned into a multifaceted program that has assisted more than 1,200 area residents in securing full-time employment. Many more have found seasonal, part-time, temporary or contract positions as a “bridge” to full-time employment. Passport to Employment, a free outreach program that teaches job-search skills to aid people in finding new employment, is open to people of all ages, backgrounds and faiths.
Eight years ago, Carmel resident and recently retired businessman Earle Hart volunteered to help several members of his church who were unemployed. Hart began by auditing courses available at his local WorkOne Center, the State of Indiana’s employment office, and then conducted interviews with Central Indiana human resources professionals, staffing managers and recruiters.
Armed with information from the classes and interviews, Hart notes, “What I learned is that job-search today is much different than in the past. We began teaching participants the current methods needed for finding a job in the digital age.” This training includes using LinkedIn and other online resources.
Within a year, the number of participants in the Passport to Employment, or P2E, program grew to such a level that additional volunteers were needed. Today, the all-volunteer P2E staff includes Hart and 12 others with career-coaching credentials. They assist job-seekers through weekly Passport to Employment meetings, which draw an average of 60 – 80 people, and weekly two-hour workshops that offer a crash course to address the basic requirements of a job search. Both take place at Church at the Crossing, 9111 Haverstick Road in Indianapolis, near 82nd Street and Keystone Avenue.
One individual who greatly benefited from his involvement with Passport is Carmel’s Mark Craft, now assistant vice president, Marketing, for Purdue University. After being laid off from a position and serving as a Super Bowl volunteer, Craft learned about P2E through the WorkOne program. “I can’t overstate the benefits of the support I received from Passport,” he says, mentioning his exposure to job-search experts and other speakers, as well as the opportunity to network with others.
“Earle brings an element of consistency to the job-search program he founded, and he keeps the standards high,” Craft said. “His personal involvement makes all of the difference.”
Craft took advantage of Passport-sponsored accountability groups—small groups of individuals who support each other in the job-search process. They meet weekly at various times and locations throughout the Indianapolis area.
P2E offers a full range of free services, including group coaching and one-on-one assistance; a job board; and help building resumes, cover letters and portfolios. In addition, Passport volunteers recently published a 60-page online guidebook to navigate the journey to employment.
Passport to Employment founder Hart’s passion for helping others is evident in the way the program has expanded. To strengthen its original job-search mission, participants can now take advantage of resume-building volunteer opportunities, the opportunity for free photos for their LinkedIn home page, financial management assistance and more.
For more, visit www.golove.org/passport.