By Fran Sullivan
Gerri Battista, who landed a position at KPMG as a Senior Human Resource Associate last month, made great use of her time in transition by going back to school and making an important contact via social media.
After Gerri was laid off in May 2013, she decided to pursue her Project Management Certification. She finished her course at the end of January and promptly re-dedicated herself to her job search. After applying online to KPMG, she was contacted by a recruiter about three weeks later and had a phone interview. Says Gerri, “She was impressed that I had asked some questions that she didn’t anticipate or have the answers to given my area of expertise: Affirmative Action Plans. She contacted me about a week later to set up the face-to-face interview with the HR Director and HR Manager.” After a few more successful interviews, Gerri received a job offer.
For those still looking to land, Gerri has this advice, “Embrace social media – especially Twitter and follow blogs!” Amazing things can happen.
In January, Gerri responded when Senator Cory Booker asked unemployed people on Facebook and Twitter to describe their experience and to report the biggest misconception of being unemployed. Remembers Gerri, “I’ve been following Senator Booker on Twitter since March 2013 — and he’s been following me! — and tweeted at him that I resented that some Americans believe that I’m lazy, sitting around, collecting money and doing nothing. I’ve paid into Unemployment Insurance my entire working life on the belief that it would be there for me when I needed it and that I’m entitled to it.”
Soon afterward, the senator asked Gerri to join a roundtable discussion he was hosting in Clinton as part of his tour across New Jersey. His plan was to share these stories on the Senate floor as part of his first speech as a senator in an effort to get Unemployment Insurance renewed. The following week, the senator invited Gerri to be his guest at the State of the Union Address. “I represented my fellow 90K+ unemployed New Jerseyans in Washington at the address. ALL THIS FROM A TWEET!!! GOD IS AMAZING!” says Gerri.
As Gerri begins this new phase of her life, she takes with her the lessons and memories she gained from PSGCNJ. She says, “The fellowship is what helped me the most – when you’re unemployed, you sometimes feel isolated. Being able to come and share my feelings and experiences, hear others and be inspired, get out of the house and support others is what helped me so much.
“PSGCNJ reinforced that social interaction and networking is key, not just for my job search, but in supporting others that are unemployed. I think that is one of the most important lessons that anyone can learn — when you think you’ve done all you can for yourself, go out, and help someone else. Sometimes all a person needs is a kind word, a hug, an ear. You can be that — and by doing that, you’re sowing a good seed, creating good karma. I’m a firm believer in what you put out into the universe comes back to you.”
While Gerri is grateful to her PSGCNJ friends for their support, she also acknowledges help from a higher power. “There’s my faith and trust in God, and the realization that everything happens for a reason. It is all a part of a bigger, better plan that He has for my life. After 12 years in an organization, I needed time to re-evaluate, detoxify and reconnect who I was, what I wanted and what I didn’t want. That’s VERY important, knowing what you don’t want. I was given the gift of time — to go back to school, do the things that I love to do, deepen my faith and rediscover ME. Through this entire journey, I knew deep down that God would take care of me. He was lining up the right job and that at the right place and the right time it would come.”