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Get tips and more to find 'hidden' jobs

LAKE WYLIE -- Brian Ray knows a little something about branching out.

The founder of Charlotte-based Crossroads Career Network, now running in 91 churches and 21 states, plans to use his success story to help others during Monday's Lake Wylie Crossroads Career Network meeting at Lake Wylie Christian Assembly. His message will focus on networking to find "hidden" jobs.

"This is core to our message, but having Brian deliver as an experienced executive recruiter adds validity," said Don Clewley, organizer of the Lake Wylie group.

Ray began his effort that became Crossroads in the 1980s, and progressed through partnerships with churches to provide a "ministry-in-a-box" program offering Web sites, small groups, workshops, network meetings and individual coaching. Crossroads assists people looking to transition their employment, either after losing a job or in hopes of pursuing a new career.

After taking a leave of absence from work from 2000 to 2002 to give more attention to Crossroads, Ray hired an executive director and went back to work. In January 2008, he came back on board, along with his wife, Kristy, on a more regular basis.

"I didn't know the wave that we have now is the wave that was coming," Ray said. "By that time, the waves were crashing on the beach."

Before he shares his insights with the Lake Wylie community May 11, Ray shared a few last week with the Lake Wylie Pilot.

Q: How did Career Crossroads get started?

A: "I started with a group of friends in the late '80s to help people, and that drifted in for 10 years. We actually started meeting in a church because, there were so many people, there wasn't enough room in our office. I worked, and still do, as an executive search consultant. This is really my community service volunteer ministry."

Q: What is the program and how does it work?

A: "It's a faith-based approach to career searching and finding opportunities. We partner with churches, and we give them a buffet of resources. They get what they want and fix it the way they like it."

Q: Given the current economy, job search is on the minds of a lot of people. Is Career Crossroads as useful when the economy is better?

A: "Even in the good times, every week about a million people change jobs. Some people change jobs every year, and many stay in the same field. That means about one-third of the work force is looking at making some type of change."

Q: What types of people do you find looking to make a change?

A: "You have misemployed, or misery employed, underemployed and now a new category, nervously employed. For all these reasons it's about maximizing what you're doing."

Q: What is something people looking for jobs might not know that could help them?

A: "The statistic is that 85 percent of jobs that get filled are not listed anywhere. The tendency of most employers is the last thing you want to do is to post a job either online or on a message board, because you never know what you're getting. They'd rather have a referral. If that's true on the employer side, it's also true on the employee side."

Q: For someone in career transition, is there any "one most important thing" where they should focus most?

A: "There is the first thing. I wouldn't say it's the most important thing, but there is a first thing. The word is attitude. Keeping a positive attitude is the first of our six steps -- attitude, aptitude and altitude, then searching, sorting and selecting. From a faith-based perspective, the most important thing is hearing and following God's calling."

Q: In your experience, what is the biggest problem or hang-up most people face in career transition?

A: "Typically, what people struggle with is one of two things: Either they're angry about what has happened to them or nervous about what is going to happen to them."

Want to go?

Brian Ray of Charlotte and founder of Crossroads Career Network will be the featured speaker at 7 p.m. Monday for the Lake Wylie Crossroads Career Network at Lake Wylie Christian Assembly, 5766 Charlotte Hwy. For more information, call 803-222-0069.