More Than a Network: JVS Career Services Helps Client Get Back to Work and Inspires Him to Give Back

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Brad Wagner Photo

“If you’re not willing to listen, you’re not willing to learn,” reflected Brad Wagner on his experience with JVS Career Services. “The career coaches there are in the profession of helping you develop your professional skills, and if you’re not listening to them, you’re not benefiting yourself.”

Wagner lost his job of six years in May of 2020, due to COVID-19 cutbacks. “It was a complete shock,” he said. “I had just taken on a new role around the start of 2020, and I was growing a new team and taking on new responsibilities. Then March came along, and we were all sent home. Then in May I got a call from my boss and HR. I was expecting a pay cut, or a furlough—I was not expecting to be let go.”

Wagner had envisioned spending the next 20 years with the company, but he understands the reality of the situation and harbors no ill feelings. “I still talk to a lot of people there,” he said. “After six years, you build not only professional relationships, but also friendships. And I believe in not burning any bridges, because you never know what’s going to happen down the road.”

Understanding the situation doesn’t make losing a job any less scary. “It was pure panic,” he said. “It was right in the middle of COVID and it felt like no companies were ever going to hire again. But I’m not one to sit around and wait on handouts. I was on the phone, and I called more people the day I lost my job than I had in a really long time.”

One of those calls was to JVS Career Services, which had helped Wagner find a job a decade ago. “I had success with JVS Career Services back then, so I reached out to Kim Slaton and she put me in touch with Dedra Perlmutter.”

Wagner said Perlmutter made him feel confident and secure about his job search. “After the first time we met, I had this feeling of, ‘Where did she come from?’ Dedra was able to help me update my resume, my LinkedIn profile—she made it all look so easy. And that took a major stressor off of me.”

In addition to polishing his resume and online presence, Perlmutter helped Wagner navigate the new world of job searching. “Brad is a master networker,” she said, “but there’s more to looking for a job than networking, and a lot has changed since the last time he had to do it.”

One of those changes involved learning how to present yourself on a video call, “Dedra was always telling me a suit and tie never hurt anyone,” Wagner said with a smile. Other changes focused on the evolving nature of the interviewing process, “and all of the different, non-human, interactive personality tests,” he said. “It was also about putting in the extra effort of writing a thank you note—not just an email—right after an interview. Dedra also worked with me on how to research people and connections on LinkedIn. She worked with me on how to navigate those tough interview questions, and to develop different ways of answering them to catch the interviewer off guard and get them intrigued.”

Wagner began interviewing for his current position in July, and started in August, after having been let go in May. “It was a pretty quick turnaround,” said Perlmutter. “Brad was only officially out of work for two and a half months, but to him it felt like an eternity. It’s a testament to how seriously he took his job search. He was constantly on networking calls, and he’d tell me, ‘I have this, this, this, and this,’ and I’d have to reel him in a little, just to keep him organized, because he was reaching out to so many folks.”

“Everyone is so well connected at JVS Career Services, and that’s what sets them apart from other agencies or head hunters,” Wagner said. “The people at those other places, they’re pretty much just salespeople looking to get their percentage from finding you a job. But at JVS Career Services, you have the support of the entire team, not just a single coach. That extra care and attention is what makes them different, and it’s also what makes you different as a candidate.”

Without JVS Career Services, Wagner believes he would have polished up his ten-year-old resume and sent it out blindly. “There’s no doubt in my mind that without JVS Career Services, I’d still be unemployed. I’m not going to sugarcoat it.”

Not only did working with JVS Career Services help Wagner find a job, but it also inspired him to give back and donate to the organization. “You have to give back, look out for others, help that next person that needs it,” he said. “I can recommend them to JVS Career Services; I can share my story with them: ‘I’ve gone through this, it won’t be easy, and I can’t guarantee anything, but you need to trust the process.’ If we want these talented people to stay in town, we have to be willing to help them, because someday down the road they will be able to help someone else.”