“I wasted this whole year, doing everything wrong.”
That’s the sad comment a job seeker made to me as we were leaving a job search support group meeting in Westborough, MA. She had been an active participant in the meeting, asking many questions, clearly well-educated, a highly-intelligent and experienced professional who had been focused on job hunting since being laid off in January.
What I think she did wrong:
She waited a year before attending a job club meeting.
Get help with your job search. NOW!
Doing a job search today with no coaching or support is akin to diving off a diving board without knowing how to swim. For most of us, job hunting is a lonely, discouraging process, with many land mines to trip up the inexperienced and/or unwary. And, so many things have changed in the last few years that the process for successfully finding a job is different than in the past. Substantially different!
Since my last layoff in 1994, I’ve been studying, teaching, and writing about online job search. I’ve seen first-hand the tragedy that can accompany an extended period of unemployment. And I’ve seen what works for successful job search.
Why a job search is such a struggle
During that time, I’ve come to three conclusions about why people seem to “do everything wrong” –
- Most of us, fortunately, do not need to job hunt often enough to be good at it.
- Most of us think job hunting is simple, like going to the grocery store. In reality, it is decidedly complicated, more similar to dating/finding a spouse than to shopping.
- The Internet has changed how job hunting works, just as it has changed many, MANY other things in our culture. We have many new ways to “connect” and communicate with each other which has also created many new ways for us to mess up.
Why join a job search support group?
- You don’t know everything or everybody.
- You will discover that other smart, capable people are out of work, and that being unemployed is NOT a reflection on your intelligence or ability.
- You will discover that you’re not the only person who has questions about something, from how to use Twitter to how to answer the tell-me-about-yourself interview question.
- You will get answers to questions you have, help with your issues, and/or at least more options to consider.
- Other “sets of eyes” (and ears) helping with your resume, cover letter, blog, phone interview technique, etc. provide you with feedback from another perspective and the perspective is usually helpful rather than judgmental.
- You will be able to help other job seekers which is as good for you as it is for the other person, a chance to feel (and to demonstrate) that you are useful, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
- You will expand your personal/professional network because the members will be employed in the future with a variety of employers.
- Last but not least, you will get out of your house and away from your computer!
Most job clubs are free or very low cost, so don’t let fear of expenses stop you. Your family members try hard to be supportive, but they can often be a source of more stress than help. Someone outside of your family may provide more useful assistance and less pressure.
How to make job search support groups work for you
- Attend the meetings. Regularly. More than once!
- Give help.
- Ask for help.
- Don’t give up until you land your job.
- After you’ve “landed,” let everyone in the group know HOW you landed your job, in detail!
- After you’ve found your new job, stay in touch with the group, and help other members with their job search. You’ll also be expanding your network building up a good positive balance in your “karma account” for the next time you need a break.
How to find a job club/job search support group
Preferably, you want a group run by an experienced career professional. A group of unemployed “buddies” can do it themselves, but it’s best if a professional leads it for you. You’ll get farther, faster with professional help.
- Your local library, community center, and places of worship may host a group and/or keep a list of local groups.
- In the USA, check your local Career OneStop Centers for groups or information about them – http://www.servicelocator.org/
- In the USA, the U.S. Department of Labor has a directory of job clubs by state.
- Find more information about job clubs from the U.S. DOL – https://partnerships.workforce3one.org/page/job_clubs.
- Contact your high school, college, university, or grad school to see if the career center offers help to alums (sometimes just attending for 1 semester qualifies you as an alum).
- Contact your past schools to see if they offer a way to connect with other alumni for information interviews, networking, and simply reconnecting – an alumni organization, LinkedIn Group, and/or alumni directory.
- Check with MeetUp.com to see if any MeetUp job hunting groups meet in your area.
- Google and Yahoo Groups often are venues for job seekers to get together, sometimes only online, but often off-line, too.
- LinkedIn Groups also offer a way to connect with other job seekers, like the Job-Hunt Help Group run by Job-Hunt.org. These groups are usually online only, but some may meet offline, too.
- Check Job-Hunt.org’s famous Directory of Networking & Job Support Groups, by state.
As with the RileyGuide.com, this list links to the job support groups that have websites or web pages, and, unfortunately, most do not.
- More links to job support groups by location on RileyGuide Job Club Listings.
- Set up your own buddy group with unemployed friends and colleagues (even family members) using Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft book. She makes it available for free at http://wishcraft.com/ and it’s a great guide to setting up “success teams.”
Groups that are national to a certain degree include: The Five O’Clock Club, NetShare, FortyPlus, and ExecuNet.
What to look for in a job search support group:
- Ideally, the groups are moderated or run by a career professional, someone who understands how the whole process works and has current experience in either successfully finding employment themselves or in helping others to find jobs.
- Usually the cost to attend is low. Sometimes, if sponsored, they are free.
- Avoid the “pity-party,” ain’t-it-awful groups. You don’t need those groups – they will bring you down, not help you succeed.
Finding a job is NOT easy for the vast majority of people. Don’t waste time by thinking that you know it all or that you don’t need or can’t get help. You can find help, inexpensively if you need to, and you should. NOW! And, building your network now through job search support groups should make that next job search easier – and you will be job hunting again, some day.
More About Successful Job Search
© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.