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Goodwill counselor helping those seeking employment

July 4, 2013
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

He's been there ... no job and lacking the confidence to find one. Today, he is a different man who has become a minister and also works for Goodwill full-time in the offices of Lehigh Community Services in Lehigh, helping others to find a job and a paycheck.

Dr. Robert L. James is a job-link coordinator with Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida and he is on the job four days a week, Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 1 to 4 p.m. helping people to find a job.

"I'm here for those people who have been looking and looking for a job, those who have lost faith and just don't think they can find work. I am here to work with them until we find something that matches their skills," he said.

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Robert James

He's also a pastor for the Agape Believers Center in North Fort Myers.

With the economy turning around slightly with promises of recovery, more and more jobs are becoming available.

James says he understands those who have looked for jobs and were turned down and how they feel. There are also those who have just given up and have become despondent, not thinking they will ever find a job.

"Well, I am here to do what we can to get you employed," James said in a positive voice. "I will work with those unemployed people until we can find a job that suits their skills so they can return to the work force and make a living."

He has been working in the Lehigh Community Services offices at 201 Plaza Drive since March and says he has been busy. The word of mouth and referrals from the person who held the position before him has helped, he said.

"It is important for those people who really want to find a job to contact me. They must make an appointment though. We usually will work together for an hour and sometimes we schedule a client to come back at another time to continue the process," he said.

You can call 369-5818 which is the number of Lehigh Community Services or you can call James direct at 239-771-1928.

James said he likes his time with his clients, getting to know them, what they are interested in doing and what their job history is and what skills they possess. He urges those people who come for his help to bring a resume, hopefully a one-page resume, he says. He doesn't not want people to bring a box full of papers.

"A one-page resume going back in your job history for no longer than 10 years is enough. A one-page resume should be brief and to the point. If someone can't write a resume, I will help them do it," he said.

"Some years ago I went through a similar circumstance. I had a bachelor's and a master's degree and two doctorate degrees and I had to get a job and it was difficult.

"I was down in spirit and it was hard to do, so I do understand how people feel. One gentleman told me to 'change my face' meaning I should look forward and be confident and show that confidence in my face. That worked and I was able to get work," he said.

"So I have to tell my clients that first off. Look good and put on a good face when you are being interviewed, it will go a long way."

James will use a computer to look through files of jobs that are available in the area, including Lehigh and all of Lee County. He will help you fill out the job applicant form online.

"While they are there, I may have more questions for them, so we can put that into the job application to help find that job," he said.

He has a Ph.D. in psychology and worked at his own practice in the past, but found out that the job didn't always pay the bills. So he brought his skills to Goodwill where they are much in demand.

"We have several maybe 18 to 20 people - who work for Goodwill Industries doing what I do, helping people to become employed," he said. "A lot of people don't know all the good things that Goodwill does. It is probably one of the best secrets around. Things like providing you with a used car with an affordable monthly payment to get to work.

"Some people have had to let their cars go when they lost their jobs. There are other things that Goodwill does in the various community all to help others. Goodwill is one of the largest employers in Southwest Florida," James said.

Goodwill Industries is best known for its stores where used items in good condition are sold.

In Lehigh, Goodwill is preparing to build a large center on Lee Blvd., to replace a smaller one up the road.

Before coming to Lehigh to work at helping find people jobs, James said he worked in the Palm Beach Blvd. area, and people there knowing him in the past may come to Lehigh to get help and they lots of time refer people to him, he said.

"I promise to my clients that if you want to work, come and let me help you. I will never stop until we find a job for you," he said.

"We are very serious about job placement and I get excited when I find a good job for someone. I love what we're doing."

He used to teach people how to write resumes so re-writing long resumes that people often prepare can be cut down to a one page document, he said, and it is better.

"And going back more than 10 years in job history is no good. There can be a chance that the person we are applying to may be prejudiced about age so I say keep your job history to only 10 years back," he said.

"I'm here four days a week. Make an appointment and let's get you back to work."



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