Considering "Job Clubs" ...

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We've got another entry from "co-Job Stalker" Gordon Dymowski today.  Interestingly, he's taking up the subject of "job clubs", a concept that I'd just encountered in reading the Mark Bolles book that I covered last week.  Needless to say, I found this of interest, and I hope you will too!

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One of my greatest personal challenges in finding employment (either freelance or long-term) is staying accountable, and having a small support group people who actively encourage me to remain diligent. It is often not easy to find such people - an offhanded remark from me about, say, reentering the non-profit arena might lead a slightly uninformed person into a slightly discouraging response about how non-profits are lacking for funds, and how they might not be hiring at this time, and that my efforts might be placed elsewhere.

This guest post isn't about that (believe me, I am always open to new opportunities no matter what the source) - it's about a chance meeting I had a few months ago after attending Chicago Net Tuesday's monthly meeting. (DISCLAIMER - I'm one of the co-organizers) An online pal I knew primarily through Twitter and Facebook were discussing our challenges in job seeking. He had an unusual life situation (he was a stay-at-home dad) and I was looking in a slightly niche area (non-profit with a focus on public health, preferably in the field of tobacco prevention." Within a few minutes of the conversation, we created a short list of people we knew were seeking jobs in niche fields (government, non-profits, etc), and decided to start a job club with the goal of using social media tools to say in touch.

Job clubs aren't the latest tool on the block - when I lived in St. Louis, an organization called BBJ helped me stay focused, and also taught me the value in strategic networking. (Remind me one of these days to blog about Frank, who shaped my thinking about professional networking). "Job clubs" not only provide valuable networking, but BBJ also provided volunteer assistance in resume writing, practice interviews....in short, it provided a great one stop shop for the job seeker, and with its Monday morning meetings, allowed me to start my week in the right frame of mind.

In a larger city like Chicago, although there are plenty of "job clubs" to provide support, there are some drawbacks. First, it can be a challenge for people reliant on public transportation (like me) to visit groups that meet in the far suburbs. In addition, it can be slightly disheartening to enter a building and see plenty of other people who are seeking jobs....and obviously, there are those who share their tales of woe more frequently than their successes. But those small complaints do not detract from the fact that job clubs offer accountability, support, and most importantly - valuable networking contacts.

In fact, the great thing about using social media is that one can more easily network and stay in contact. Our group uses Google Groups (via e-mail) as a primary way of sharing leads, insights, and other resources. In addition, we are linking to each other via Linked In in order to share contacts and other information. Twitter and Facebook allow us to provide great emotional support, so much so that we only meet informally for breakfast (or lunch) every other month. Is it ideal? Probably not, but it does allow us to build  camaraderie while simultaneously providing time for us to engage in job seeking skills.

Plus, one of our original eight "founding members" has since gone onto gainful employment, giving us a 12.5% success rate. Not bad for something small and a few months out of the gate.

But here's my challenge to you - find others who are in the same situation, and decide to create your own informal support group. Use e-mail and other tools to provide support and communication. Trust me - it will make the job seeking process slightly easier.

Have you had success with a job club or other group? Then please feel free to comment - I enjoy getting reader feedback, and quite frankly, it's a great opportunity to network. Or if you would like to contact me various social networks (or check out my various blogs and guest appearances), please feel free to check out my home site, gordondymowski.com.

As always, thanks for reading!

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