During the first few weeks of my job search, I was very busy putting together what I thought was a good job search. This including creating a résumé, figuring out job boards, and developing my strategy and schedule. I was also figuring out my finances and learning the ins an -outs of unemployment insurance.
I had heard that networking was a significant part of job search success, but I didn't know anyone and wasn't sure how to begin. Eventually, though, I learned of some local job search clubs and started going. This changed the direction of my job search completely. I learned that I wasn't alone, and that other people who were more qualified than I was had also lost their jobs and were experiencing the same things I was. Until then, I had felt like a colossal failure, thinking I was unique in my situation.
I also learned, from my job seeking peers, that I was doing all the wrong things in a job search. I learned the best strategies and tactics, and even better wording on questions or statements.
I was nervous going to the first job club meeting, and it took a while to figure out how to get value out of it; but I'm completely sold that this is a place job seekers should go. Here are some ideas on how to find a meeting near you:
1. Ask other job seekers
You will undoubtedly come across other job seekers. Ask them if they know of any job clubs or networking events for job seekers. You want to know what clubs they actually go to. You'll hear about networking events for employed and unemployed people. Don't discount either, of course; but make sure you go to the events for unemployed people.
Google seems to be the answer for everything, doesn't it? Here are some search terms:
- [your city] "job club"
- [your state] networking
- [your state] network transition
- [your state] network unemployed
- [your state] network "job ministry"
You can play around with various phrases; each city or state will produce different results. As I've traveled I've been really impressed with some of the longstanding clubs and opportunities in some places, and wished other places had something similar. A note about "job ministry": Most good-sized cities I visit have job ministries that are sponsored by a church -- and sometimes these are the biggest and best networking opportunities available. It doesn't matter what your religious beliefs are; you'll find people from many different faiths at the job ministries.
Susan Joyce, the owner of Job-Hunt.org, has done a great job building a list of local networking opportunities for job seekers, broken down by state. Go to your state and see what they have. If something you know of is not listed you can e-mail her team and they'll check it out.
4. Ask people who are still working
Maybe in the last few years your friends who have a job have had to find some of these resources on their own. Once they go through a bad job search they tend to have a soft spot in their hearts for those in transition, and they are eager to help. I remember getting lots of help and relevant advice from people I thought had great careers only to hear their own job search stories. They were a gold mine of information.
5. Ask workforce services
State workforce services should know about local networking events you could go to. Some of them will sponsor their own events. If you can network your way into someone at the state office who understands what you do for a living and has helped others with your background, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Do you know of other ways to find job clubs? Have you found value from attending the job clubs? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.