Archive for June, 2010

The Benefits of a Joining a Job Search Support Group

I have seen thousands of job seekers benefit from participating in job search support groups, or job clubs. So it drives me crazy to hear anyone make a statement to the effect of; “What could I possibly gain by networking with a bunch of unemployed people?” One of the best answers I ever heard to that question comes from Jason Alba, CEO of JibberJobber.com and Author of I’m on LinkedIn, Now What? Jason simply states that unemployed people make excellent networking sources, because they know where the job openings are.

Beyond learning about job leads, job clubs offer much needed opportunities for interpersonal contact. One of the many struggles unemployed job seekers describe is the isolation that comes with a job loss. Many unemployed individuals agree that finding a job, even in a strong economy, can rank among the most difficult projects they ever work on in their career. When you think about difficult projects that you have worked on throughout your career, remember how valuable you found the interaction with team members tackling the same project. In the case of a job search, such interactions will come from fellow job seekers. No one understands the challenges you face each day as well as someone facing the same ones.

A successful group does not need to be specific to a particular field, as job seekers face many universal issues. Examples include navigating job boards and online applications, job interview strategies, handling the frustration of job search and rejection, dealing with growing financial pressures, there is no shortage of potential topics for the meetings. A reality I regularly point out is that most people never learn about the changes in job search strategies until faced with a search. As a result, they have to catch up on a great deal of new information once the search begins. One sign of a strong job search group is a good variety of topics scheduled for each meeting.

Finding such groups is quite easy. Most local area one-stop career centers will have information about possible groups. Career related web sites also list such groups, for example Job-Hunt.org lists more than 800 groups broken down by state. As a sign of the times, quite often professional associations and other community, business or worship-oriented organizations may sponsor these groups. Check out local news lines or business journals for possibilities.

Identify multiple groups when possible, and visit each to see which has the most to offer. Pay close attention to the strength of the leadership and how well structured the meetings are. Gatherings of people facing something as stressful as a job search will attract people in negative mindsets. Make certain that facilitators keep the focus of the group sessions positive, while accommodating needs for members to vent frustration. I understand the need to for job seekers to vent, but too much complaining can turn a meeting into a “whine festival,” so to speak. Attendees will then leave without much positive energy, decreasing the likelihood they will return.

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SUMMER AND JOB SEARCH I

We’ve just passed Memorial Day, 2010. I want to focus my next two posts on two common issues that often come up in job searches during the summer months. First is a pervasive myth I’ve seen affect many job seekers throughout my years in career services. The myth: Nobody Hires in the Summer. Before you buy into this theory, or even the concept that hiring slows down during the summer, consider the following:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics hiring data, no significant changes have occurred in hiring rates during summer months in any of the past ten years.
  • July 1 begins new fiscal years for many companies, agencies or governments. Any new positions budgeted for the new fiscal year will now come open.
  • The most common times employees select for voluntary resignations and retirements are the summer and end of calendar year. Thus the potential for more openings increases.
  • When any of the program’s I’ve worked at throughout my career have tracked monthly hiring or placement activity, summer months have ended up among the highest.

The hiring process may take longer, as coordinating interviews around vacations  extends time frames. However, any job seeker that switches into cruise control believing little hiring gets done in July and August will miss out on many opportunities.