Product / NJ Office of Innovation, The Rockefeller Foundation, New America
New Jersey Career Network helps people manage the stress of a job search by helping them spend the right amount of time on each step of the process, like finding the right mindset, writing cover letters and properly preparing for interviews. NJCN also recognizes that the unemployed often face additional problems that go beyond the job search. Many need help finding health care, securing housing, or getting food assistance.
After being brought in by New America with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, we partnered with the NJ Office of Innovation and Rutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development on the NJCN. It was clear to all parties that we needed to find a solution to address the difficulties of unemployment while providing access to other critical services that make a difference in people’s lives.
We had been working with the NJCN for four months when Covid-19 arrived. In April 2020, the unemployment rate in New Jersey went from 3.80% to 16.30%. We knew that New Jersians had a greater need for the NJCN than we could have foreseen. Working closely with our users, we took action to help job seekers find the pandemic-specific resources they were looking for. We also began asking: In a world where the stress of a pandemic mounts and in-person interactions are limited, what does a job seeker need to know? What do they need to do? We continued to build features and develop content with empathy and understanding that the world is uncertain always — because in the Spring of 2020, that uncertainty was greater than ever.
New Jersey Career Network has become a key service to the more than 6,000 NJ residents that participate in the state's various job training and job coaching services that New Jersey offers. It has provided the reassurance that users were seeking through the guidance, the activities, and the empathy it approaches job seekers with.
New Jersey Career Network continues to serve as a central pillar as part of the current and future plans to further workforce equity, close the racial wealth gap, steady the job market, and reduce unemployment across the Garden State.