LinkedIn offers job-search help for the homeless


A group of 55 homeless people paid a visit to LinkedIn's Mountain View headquarters Friday where dozens of LinkedIn employees helped them with their LinkedIn profiles.

The group was brought in from various local homeless shelters by InnVsion Shelter Network. The group, wearing their best clothes, lined up to have professional head-shots taken for their LinkedIn profiles. Most seemed to be inspired to be at LinkedIn's headquarters, as they enjoyed the free food and ping-pong tables in the cafeteria.

"I am so computer illiterate, this world to me is like I'm on another planet," said an older out-of-work construction worker who seemed to be moving towards an uncertain future with a laugh and a smile on his face. He added, "What do I got to lose?"

Among the group was an older man who said it had been tough to find a job even though he'd he'd just finished school to become an X-ray technician. He didn't want to keep imposing on friends by sleeping on their couches, so he started staying at the InnVision shelter on Maple Street in Redwood City.

"To get your resume professionally reviewed could cost anywhere from $50 to $200," he said, calling the event "a win-win situation."

He reflected on how much times had changed. In the past, "I'd sit across from a man at a desk, and we'd talk, shook hands and I got the job. Nowadays you got resumes with your picture, and media sites chronicling your life that companies review. There's pictures going onto resumes, which is astounding to me." Despite his troubles, he seemed sure that he'd prevail. "It's just matter of time," he said.

Another attendee was a former operations manager who blamed her situation in part on a drug addiction, from which she is recovering.

"The hardest part of doing a job search these days is doing another application that just goes into cyberspace," she said. "You can apply for 30 jobs and you might get nothing back."

A group of 40 LinkedIn employees and a 15 other volunteers hoped to change the odds by volunteering to help the group stand out among LinkedIn's 300 million members. Sitting around tables with laptop computers, folks were helped one by one, as new LinkedIn profiles were created and others were improved. The group was led through how to create professional identity, find connections to build a network, how to get recommended and how to research jobs on the site.

Creating a profile allows you to "control who you are and control your identity" online, said Ryan McDougal, LinkedIn's marketing manager. Create a good profile and "you can have an unfair advantage in the job market. If you don't have a professional identity, LinkedIn can't work for you, it can't create that unfair advantage for you."

The group was encouraged to add volunteer work they've done to their profiles. "Half of all managers consider volunteer work equivalent to paid work," McDougal said.

The group was also encouraged to connect with potential employers on LinkedIn, where many have profiles, and to use the site to network with existing employees at those companies.

InnVision has been partnering with young employees at LinkedIn and other tech companies to form NextGen, an advisory board of so-called millenials who have a sense of how new technology could help the InnVision's clients, primarily through building resumes and using the Internet to find jobs, said InnVision CEO Karae Lisle.

"You give somebody a job, then they have the money they need to find a place to rent and get back on their feet," McDougal said, explaining why he was on the board. Not just finding a job, but the right job to allow career progression, he added.

"The purpose of the advisory board was to be young because of the way they see the world," said Lisle, who is over 50. "My age group does silent auctions and galas and things like that to help people. This generation says, 'We're going to create a mobile app to help you find a job.'"

One homeless couple had received not just job training, but a job opportunity. LinkedIn's kitchen manager heard that they both had an interest in climbing the ranks in the food service industry and gave them both job applications. Despite income from Ronnie Martinez's part-time work as a cook and his partner Arianna Pena's financial aid from studying hospitality in college, the couple can't afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose, and they are one of the first couples to be allowed to live together in an InnVision shelter, where men and women usually live separately.

"We want to go to work," said Martinez about himself and Pena. He said he loves to cook, but finding enough work and at decent pay has been tough, he said. He was offered an assistant manager job at $10 an hour, but, "You can't even survive off $10 an hour."

He said he was excited about the opportunity of possibly working in the kitchen at LinkedIn, saying "I want to feel like I'm in a great place."

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Like this comment
Posted by carol
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2014 at 10:46 am

Thank you LinkedIn for teaming with InnVision to treat homeless people with dignity and respect.
I'm hopeful this will help many of them land jobs. I imagine they are thankful for the help and compassion.
Great job!

Like this comment
Posted by Traceychen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 29, 2014 at 11:18 am

i have lots of work that i can't do because i'm disabled and there are NO agencies that help disabled adults...and i'm mid-divorce from an abusive psychopath...he will see me run into the street handily...makes over $350,000/year...i built his company..was his first employee...slaved 12-hour days for way less than i was worth...and i have no help now...because i'm unfortunately part of the subclass of women who were raised by abusive mothers who run their families with lies as soon-to-be-ex had no problem turning all against this house becomes a neighborhood HEALTH HAZARD ....(p.s. churches in this area are HYPOCRITES...just TRY to ask one for ANY kind of help...they won't even reply) whatever is about to climb out of my pool attacks the neighborhood yappy dogs....i SURE hope SOME person LOOKING for a private room and bath with skills THAT I NEED that they can barter in exchange for it....i can also give my dance floor with beautiful natural light to any groups that need meeting/teaching space....topics i would welcome hosting: organic food gardening (including bees and chickens for eggs...any group interested is FREE to come USE my property...jsut keep that part up and share a bit this way...come TEACH others here), dance, the principles of freedom and respecting others, music...i have no pets here...and i CAN tolerate them for short periods (even though i'm allergic..the floors here are easy care..and i love them) me clean this place up again so i can try renting it out on AIRbnb...and you can stay when it's not rented out maybe? i don't know...or stay in the living room on goal is to move away and rent it out at market value eventually...but am mid stuck in catch 22 financially right HOMELESS organization out there HERE I COME! PUT ME ON YOUR waiting list if no one helps me escape this psychopath's attempts to run me into street or psyche FAVORS is written BY liars to protect every conflict/situation of injustice...if you can't identify the are siding with them...and revictimizing or keeping down victims. and article would have been nice to have a direct link to the group they we could browse their profiles...i will go try to see if there is a way to find them ...but um...hmm......if there isn't...then this piece didn't give them the added exposure they might need...thank you all Tracey Chen...i think you can find me on facistbook but i doubt this site will let me give contact info...angry anarchist :)..and this city OWES ME..

Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2014 at 11:18 am

And for the hopeless?

Like this comment
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2014 at 11:21 am

BTW: during the recession, resume writers were falling out of trees. Now, it's tough to find someone who writes them. Instead, I'm finding there are "life coaches" who will help you write it yourself. That means a guaranteed number of billable visits to the life coach, which is tough for someone making no or low money to pay. Some of us are so traumatized by our circumstances, we need for someone else to interview us and write the resume for us.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no one out there who does that. I would be happy to pay a person for that. I am not willing, and cannot pay, a life coach to 'coach' me in writing my own resume.

Like this comment
Posted by Traceychen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 29, 2014 at 11:46 am

to enough! I FEEL YA! ooooo BOY do i FEEL YA! ....

when you have an INVISIBLE disability NO ONE even BELIEVES what you literally CAN'T do...(anymore..even though you USED to EXCEL at it)...and while we try to BREATHE through each second of even SIT in their presence...UGH.......believe me...i FEEL YA!.....

and i hope to REGAIN some of my abilities...BUT ...withOUT HELP....i may joke. [Portion removed.]

and here's something our society doesn't really understand: they SAY..."you have to ASK for help to get it" but IF and WHEN you actually DO that....THAT IS WHEN YOU GET THE EXACT OPPOSITE of help.....

you get ATTACKED for "not pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" "standing on your own two feet" ...basically for being STUPID enough to have found yourself helpless....society does NOT understand that there are REAL victims of REAL psychopaths out there...who can UTTERLY DESTROY your life...EVEN if you USED to be able to train md/phds how to forecast pharmaceutical markets in excel...and people who landed up being worth BILLIONS BEGGED you to help them learn to write and edit better...they ALL ABANDON YOU when you ASK for help....

even the ones you were there for for OVER 30 freaking years....taking in their kids and CCI breeder dogs for FREE out of PURE love and admiration....the FIRST TIME you beg in tears "please help me find a financial assistant" will get "there MUST be organizations to help people like you...i will pray for you" and they will waltz out the door to their meditation beach vacation resort trip...never to contact you again...

here is what i tell people now: PRAYER is for the pray-ER...if you aren't asking for guidance on HOW TO BE the love in someone's're doing it all wrong

UNTIL i am FREE of this psycho's financial abuse (and my IDIOT lawyer's legal joke...people can't even believe the truth ..BUT I DO NOT LIE) disabilities are only being WORSENED by the stress...and others in these kinds of situations FACE THESE SAME PROBLEMS...i may NEVER regain full function again...(not in arms/hand anyway) ..i may have to live in agony my whole life...the financial stress makes it all worse.....

i sure wish someone would invent a bartering website...for all to list their needs/services/skills/products/stuff and space to share...whatever...OUTSIDE of "money"....use CREDITS for participation like points for what you're offering is worth...and keep track...use a rating system like ebay uses for rating participant integrity....and get EVERYONE in EVERY HOME ON BOARD USING IT EASY...SEND TEAMS up and down each block to TRAIN people HOW to list all they ahve to share...and all they WANT and/or NEED.....

i want traveling teaching teams for a LOT of things:

install solar panels on every property, and wind turbines, and water catchment and RO (and get the FLOURIDE and CHLORAMINE OUT of our WATER people!!!)

teach self and property defense to ALL not provide it..teach it and move on

teach organic food and medicine gardening and processing

have a nice day everyone

Like this comment
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Tracy, if you have an attorney who isn't doing their job and is in fact, harming you, contact the state bar and ask for them to tell you about fee mitigation.

Like this comment
Posted by Local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Tracey, you sound like you really are extremely frustrated by your circumstances and not finding much compassion or help. Please be open that physical and mental health are not necessarily separable.

The posts do highlight problems in our society:
Our medical system is still broken in many ways.

She is right, that services to help the disabled get employment don't really exist. There are Potemkin Village services, but it's like the ACA website absent the public outcry to fix it. The disabled who can work are not viewed as differently abled, sometimes highly skilled people with chronic illness, or people who need the right kind of help to find (in this high tech economy) often skilled work they can do, they are viewed as losers who can only do grunt work (that they are ill suited for doing long term) for employers who need low-wage workers. There is certainly a range of the disabled, and surely there is crossover with the mentally ill homeless population. But conflating the populations means no one gets the help they need, and the two serious problems, lack of straightforward healthcare for all of our citizens and lack of anything resembling help and the right kind of help for the disabled (especially as Tracey above highlights, those with what are "invisible" disabilities) to find employment, probably do consign a lot of people to the roles of destitute and chronically homeless.

Kudos to LinkedIn for trying to help. I hope they also help some of the same population obtain other services to help them be successful in their employment.

Like this comment
Posted by lkmv
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Tracey Chen; I've been there and still am there; better but by no means "cured". I am not lazy or stupid or unambitious - your story reminds me of me. . .

Local, you are right; an invisible disability is not recognized. Most people only understand a wheel chair.

I could go on . . .but it makes me tired.

Like this comment
Posted by Rooster
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm


You say,"i sure wish someone would invent a bartering website...for all to list their needs/services/skills/products/stuff and space to share...whatever...OUTSIDE of "money"....use CREDITS for participation like points for what you're offering is worth...and keep track . . ."

Have you tried or heard of Palo Alto Rooster? Web Link?
Or,Palo Alto Medical Foundation has a program called "linkAges". Web Link. I have not used either but believe both work along the principles you mention.

Best of luck

Like this comment
Posted by Mike Sheldon
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 12:12 am

Great article. I was able to land myself a full time job with benefits using the job hunting resources from Web Link and Web Link. Good Luck with your job search everyone

Like this comment
Posted by Dr. M. Chen
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 16, 2016 at 10:46 pm

[Post removed.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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