Money and Main Street

A job finding people jobs

When there is no work to be had, finding employment for others can become a career opportunity.

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By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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After he was laid off, Carlos Gil started an online job board to help others out of work.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Some people go back to school when they lose their jobs. Some spend all day on their couch. Others parlay their situation into a business.

With mounting job losses and unemployment at a 25-year high, there is no shortage of job seekers flocking to the Internet for advice, tips, leads and connections. Now some resourceful people out of work have used the opportunity to eke out a new career for themselves: helping people find jobs.

"The economy is really bad and the job market is terrible so people are looking for any type of support or outlet right now," says Ford Myers, president of Career Potential, LLC, a Pennsylvania-based career consulting firm, and author of the upcoming book, "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring."

Plus, traditional avenues of job searches are drying up, fueling the demand for new employment resources.

"Outplacement firms are offering fewer transition programs and more people have to fend for themselves," adds Myers.

Finding a niche

Some see a career opportunity in the ever-expanding market of unemployed workers, while others view it as a chance to help people in their position.

Carlos Gil saw a need after he lost his job and wanted to help. That's how he got the idea to start JobsDirectUSA, an online job board.

When Gil, 25, was laid off from his job as a regional sales manager for a subsidiary of AIG in November, he went online and found many other job seekers, like himself, looking for help.

Now Gil is back at work, bringing workers and employers together on his job board. Although it's not profitable yet, "I'm making this my full-time job," Gil says. "This is my calling and as long as there is a need to put jobs in front of workers I will continue to work full time in an effort to do so."

So far the site, which is free for job seekers and charges recruiters and employers $12.49 a month to post positions, has a little over 10,000 users, he says.

"My goal is to help as many of America's job seekers get back on their feet and find employment no matter how long it takes."

Making a living off such a business is a much greater challenge. Despite the high demand, success isn't guaranteed. Many of these startups end up as pet projects and don't ever get off the ground.

"Ninety-five percent of the time this will be a temporary thing unemployed workers will get involved with to move through this painful transition. Maybe 5% of the time this can turn into a career for someone," says Myers.

Joseph Shieh is one of those 5%. After 5 years, Shieh's site, 50statejobs.com, is well established with about 50,000 registered users nationwide.

Shieh, 38, kick started his venture when he was laid off from a health insurance company. Since then, he's been able to carve out a career for himself. He says he now earns more than he did in his previous job. The site's revenue comes from advertising and affiliate links and is free for employers and job seekers.

And now he gets to help others weather periods of unemployment, which is the best part, he says.

"I have had people email me that they've found jobs. It feels great," he said.

Maro Onokpise also hopes to profit from his business while helping those in need of work.

Onokpise, 31, started tinkering with his own social network for job seekers about a year ago when his finances hit the skids. He had been laid off twice within the last year, most recently from a computer company in Orlando.

"I thought enough is enough," he said. So Onokpise switched gears and started jux-ta-pose.com to help others find work. The site has a social networking component, job seeking tools and a job board, which is its most popular feature.

While Onokpise still works as a medical sales representative to help make ends meet, jux-ta-pose.com is garnering some income, driven by paid job postings, he said. Employers pay $50 per ad for 30 days. The site, which has about 1,500 members, is also free for job seekers.

Onokpise hopes that, ultimately, the site will take off, but also finds the work rewarding. "I really want this to be something that helps job seekers," he said. "With unemployment reaching 10% it is something that I want to do to help people." To top of page

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