Too often, the job search is a lonely activity characterized by a “fend for yourself” attitude, which can lead to “there are just no jobs out there for me” exasperation. To combat the feelings of defeat and isolation while job searching, the Career Center has revived the tried-and-true concept of job search groups, aka, job clubs. We are currently conducting the fifth job club since we started in 2010.
The concept of job clubs is not new. It originated in the 1970s and has since been studied repeatedly and in different settings. Each study has shown that job club participants have better and faster job search outcomes than job seekers who work on their own.
Our main motive is to provide a safe, supportive space and fellowship with like-minded job searchers while at the same time teaching job search skills. Our groups run for 12 weeks and meet once a week for up to three hours. Each meeting starts with a check-in, where participants share their job search activities, successes and missteps of the preceding week. This provides an opportunity for participants to vent frustration, share joys, and ask each other for both advice and networking leads.
The second part of the session consists of a weekly topic where participants learn important job search skills such as job search strategy, resumes, interview preparation, networking and informational interviews, development of a personal brand and elevator pitch, salary negotiation, dealing with rejection, managing personal finances, how to start your own business, etc.
So, after 12 weeks participants are walking away with resumes, elevator pitches, interview and networking strategies, active LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, and greater financial literacy. But most importantly, they have established a true professional support system and even some new friends. They have more confidence to tackle their search. In fact, many participants leave the group before the end of the 12 weeks because they have found employment in the meantime.
Besides finding employment, the most important outcome of our job clubs are the participants’ newfound feelings of confidence and hope. Being able to help other participants with networking leads and/or advice during the meetings contribute to their overall well-being.
A testimonial from a previous participant of an all female group sums it up nicely: “The topics have been valuable, but the group support has been great. It has been a confidence builder. It has been helpful, when brainstorming, to give back to the others too … we were sisters in search.”
Written by Anne Nowak, Certified Job and Career Development Coach.
Excerpted from “Sisters in Search: Improving Job Search Outcomes through Job Club Peer Support,” by Anne Nowak, which appeared in NCDA’s web magazine, Career Convergence, at www.ncda.org. Copyright © June 2016. Reprinted with permission.