An answer to the lonely hunt for employment; Larry Gaffin leads free job-search support group in Queen Anne

A free job-search support group is being led by Larry Gaffin, a former member of the clergy and a career counselor, at the Uptown Neighborhood Center in lower Queen Anne.
"It's to help people with networking ideas, resume preparation, interview techniques and the emotional support needed in a job search," Gaffin said. "We really try to help brainstorm options for people."
Gaffin said it's sometimes difficult for people to know the best steps to take when looking for employment.
He believes a major strength of a job-search support group is in its numbers.
"It helps people who feel isolated in their job search to know that others are going through the same things."
Each week, the group members are asked to talk about themselves and how they are faring with their hunt for employment. "Then they have time to frame a question like 'How do I learn how to talk about my strengths better in an interview?' Then we brainstorm possible solutions."
Which is another advantage to the group, Gaffin noted, because it provides a diversity of experience and ideas.
"The more information we have, the more options we have. When we don't think we have options we get depressed, and that's debilitating."
Gaffin recalled a surprising group meeting last summer that revealed the power of diversity. "We had a person who was near homeless and a person who was a former CEO in the group. It was sometimes tense with this range of people from different places in the work world."
The woman who was close to being homeless came up with a solution for the CEO, but Gaffin felt it was too general and asked her to provide specifics.
"She did, and she gave the CEO a perspective he hadn't had. Later, one guy said, 'I realize we all have a lot in common, even though we come from such different places.'"
Gaffin also thinks it's helpful when possibilities are suggested by people in the same boat.
"It's not just me telling you what to do because I know the answer."
Although Gaffin does have some experience with job loss when a long-term contract vanished due to the poor economy and he used the techniques he preaches to recoup.
He said that group members take options from the brainstorming sessions, try them out and return to the group to report on the success of the solution or get help refining a failed attempt.
Gaffin chose career counseling as a profession because he likes being a catalyst to get people moving with their lives.
"Freud, when asked what's the purpose of our life, said 'To work and to love.' Work is a big part of our life."
With 25 years as a member of the clergy, Gaffin has a long history of counseling and inspiring people. When he opened his counseling business, the Center for Life Decisions, near Madison Park, he had a particular goal.
"I try to help people get a job that is not just helpful for them but for their families and their communities. It's my way of making a better world."
The free job-search support groups are one way Gaffin works toward an improved world. Another counselor, Patricia Farmer, is joining Gaffin so they can present job-search support groups in other locations such as Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle.

The free job-search support group is on a drop-in basis and meets Monday nights from 7 to 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 23 at the Uptown Neighborhood Center, 157 Roy St. Gaffin said the group will start up again on Jan. 11 and run through February. He recommends bringing paper and a pencil to take notes. For more information, visit Gaffin's Web site at
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