Joining a job club can help you get through the rough spots of job hunting, and may even help you get a job.
Hunting for work? Job clubs can not only be great networking venues, but are also amazing sources of support and encouragement. Not to mention accountability, feedback, training, strategy, contacts and even friendship.
You can tell if a group is a good one by looking for these qualities:
Networking potential. The members should be in your general income range but with a breadth of experience that’s a bit deeper than your own. Ideally, they will have contacts you don’t already have, and vice versa.
Stability. Ask how long the group has been active, how many members it has (around 30 is a good number), how it recruits new members, and how often it meets (two to four times a month is usual).
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Confidentiality. What goes on in job club should stay in job club. You want to be able to openly share your strategies, ideas and frustrations, so you need to be able to trust your job-club colleagues. Go to a meeting or two and check out the vibe.
Built-in accountability. Meetings should begin with a status report from each member and end with an announcement of goals for the following week. Being required to report on your progress pushes you to keep plugging away and is, for many people, the chief benefit of a job club.
A businesslike venue. Some job clubs meet in the members’ homes, but a “neutral” location is usually best. It doesn’t have to cost money; job clubs can meet in community centers, libraries, community colleges, places of worship or other free public places.
A leader/moderator. The best groups have someone who guides the discussions and keeps the group focused. It can be a paid moderator (many job clubs are sponsored by local municipalities or career centers or even Goodwill), or members can take turns leading the group.
Extras. Some job clubs provide resume critiques, help develop job search strategies, arrange for motivational speakers and more.
Looking for work can be lonely. The longer it takes, the harder it gets. But you don’t have to go it alone. Join a job club!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at email@example.com.