Joan Tabb-Waisbein arrived in Silicon Valley, Calif. with a fresh master’s degree in training in the early 1980s and quickly rose through the ranks in Silicon Valley as a corporate manager, leading training and marketing initiatives at Apple, 3Com and Memorex. Always committed to community service, during that time she did volunteer work developing and leading informational interviewing skills and career coaching at the Career Action Center for Women in Palo Alto. In the 1990s the entrepreneurial bug bit, and Tabb-Waisbein leveraged her corporate experience and successfully built and ran a marketing consultancy focused on launching high tech start-ups.
After 20 years as a career woman, Tabb-Waisbein did a 180 when, in her early 40s, she married a widower, adopted his young son and turned her energies to family life. In the early 2000s, as the tech bubble burst, she began to see many of the parents at her son's school – the Wornick Jewish Day School in Foster City, Calif. – faced with frightening unemployment. So she got to work, blending her corporate and volunteer skills to build an employment network, leveraging the well-employed members of the school community to assist those who were unemployed. Tabb-Waisbein also brought everyone together as a support group and led them in skill-building and mutual support. She created a community model for dealing with job loss, and it worked well.
In 2008, when the recession plunged many into unemployment, Joan brought a similar employment network model to her temple, Peninsula Temple Beth El, in San Mateo, Calif., this time putting together a more formal program with a group of committed volunteers. She called it Congregants Helping Congregants. This time the program also employed a process of promoting and connecting job seekers with employment opportunities among members of the congregation. Now in its second year, Congregants Helping Congregants has helped more than 60 people get new jobs and has involved many in the 700-family community. The group meets every other week and features speakers, success story presentations of those who have found work and come back to share and inspire and always, a chance for individual job seekers to share their accomplishments and challenges from the last two weeks. Tabb-Waisbein was also honored in May 2010 as the Congregant of the Year for this work. And this year she added a new dimension to the program, assisting members’ children who have graduated college and find entering the professional world especially daunting.
“It is wonderful to see our temple community living its theme of “generation to generation” and seeing college graduates being assisted by the older members; a true cross generational program!” Tabb-Waisbein says.
She has helped create similar group in the Bay Area, and in the fall, gave a presentation on the model at Jewish Vocation Services in San Francisco, empowering more than a dozen representatives from other Bay Area communities on how to build such a program.
“As you know, as a Jew, the highest level of tzedakah is to help people to be self-supporting,” Tabb-Waisbein says, “and this means having a means of making a living. I think women, as natural communicators and connectors, can play an especially vital role in helping folks during this tough time! More than 80% of new jobs come from personal connections.”
Tabb-Waisbein wrote a book based on her work, detailing the key qualities that separate good job seekers from great ones; how job seekers need to “sharpen their pencil” in this very competitive market and become more adept at learning; and how to position and express their “value add” at interviews. Great in 8: Job Seeking Skills is available on Amazon.com and has received nothing but five-star reviews. It is also used by college students who need to translate their college success into career success in a very tough market.
Said one reviewer: “Great in 8 takes one quickly to ACTION. It's very easy during a job search to read and read, but I love that Great in 8 gets to the point quickly and has its readers personalize and go deep inside for more personal focus and direction. Potential employers are impressed by applicants that know their own strengths and skills and this book shows you the way to get there.”
Since Tabb-Waisbein and her husband launched their son to college, she is fully back in professional life again: She is working as a full-time career coach and public speaker, and continues to do vital community work as well. “I feel so blessed, at this stage of my life to not only have a new phase of life and career but to be doing work that is a true calling for me. Great in 8 Coaching brings together all that I am: a mentor, motivator and marketer all in one, and I get to empower people to move forward in their lives.” You can learn more about her work at www.greatin8coaching.com.