Brandon nonprofit offering career program

Posted at 5:11 PM, May 03, 2016

If you're looking for a job, it's easy to get frustrated by filling out countless resumes and never getting called for an interview. That's why a local nonprofit launched a program called "Job for Job" to give people much needed skills to stand out from the crowd.

You can't tell by looking, but Sarah Osley is 68 years old. She's spent more than half her life self-employed in the real estate business. But when the market crashed in 2008, her world turned upside down.

"Being an entrepreneur for 30 something years, then to drop down to Social Security at a fixed income of less than $1,000 a can't even get a place for that," Osley said.

As she started looking for jobs, she quickly realized her age wasn't the only thing standing in her way. She'd never really had to look for a job and was clueless.    

"You'll go knock on the doors, and they'll tell you go send your resume, which I know nothing about," Osley said.

But through AARP, Osley got connected to the emergency care help organization, or ECHO, in Brandon. She's been part of ECHO's new "Job for Job" program, getting training on computers, interview skills, and building a resume.

"You don't know what you have in you, and they unlock those things and give you confidence," Osley said.

Sharmaine Burr heads up the program and says that confidence is the number one thing most job seekers lack.

"You have to sell yourself. You have to, out of 200 applications, you have to be that person at getting the job that you want," said Burr, ECHO social services director.

ECHO got a generous donation of computer software from company Next Job, and says its platform helps bring out the best qualities in each person. It goes step-by-step, translating life and job experiences into a resume. For Sarah Osley, it was eye-opening.

"I never knew I had like customer service experience, management experience, property manager experience,  but they broke it all down," Osley said.

By using that language to beef up her resume, she's now got several interviews lined up.

"There's room for me too, and I am useful," Osley said.

ECHO hosts the "Job for Job" program at its Brandon office every Thursday at 1 p.m., and it's open and free for anyone to attend. It's located at 507 N. Parsons Ave.

ECHO also has a food pantry, clothing and house wares closet. It hopes eventually enough people will step to the other side of their building into the opportunity center, and work to needing other services less.

"If we bridge the gap between the crisis and self sufficiency through the opportunity center, they may still have to come back for a while -- and that's okay. But they're doing something. They're doing it. And we're just that helping hand," said Burr.