Job Clubs

The Top Habit of Exceptionally Successful Job Seekers

Research has shown that the most successful job seekers join a job club.

These groups help their members:

1. Learn job search skills.

2. Get essential social support.

Three Job Club Winners

Job clubs help people of all ages and backgrounds. I talked with three alumni while writing this post:

1. Caryn, a 30-something job seeker. She had been involved with a job club in her last search and knew she was going back.

2. Kathy, a 40-something learning & development professional. Kathy hadn’t looked for a job in 20 years. She knew she needed to network and thought a job club would be a good start.

3. Irina, a 60-something engineer. She wanted help with her resume, so she went to a job club.

A little later, I’ll describe how their job clubs helped Caryn, Kathy, and Irina with their job searches.

But first, let’s cover six key areas that will help you understand:

1. The benefits of job clubs.

2. How to find a club that will work best for you.

Our Deepest Fears About Unemployment

Being without work can bring our most deeply seated fears out of our subconscious and into our daily lives. Those fears are:

1. Failure.

2. Dependency on others.

3. Rejection.

4. Abandonment.

Research has found that if you lack social support, those fears can morph into depression — not just for you, but for any lonely job seeker.

The Benefits Offered by Job Clubs

Job Club Benefits

Joining a job club will help you:

1. Beat the fears and emotional challenges of unemployment we all experience.

2. Build the skills you need to find a job.

3. Succeed faster.

What to Look for in a Job Club

Job clubs operate on the premise that job search is a learnable skill.

Effective Job Clubs

Look for a club that:

1. Uses a standard, researched-based operating format that includes job search skills training.

2. Has these interactive elements:

a. No more than a dozen participants.

b. If it’s a large club, be sure they provide breakout groups of six to twelve people.

c. An attendance commitment.

d. Facilitated meetings.

e. Sharing by newly-hired, former members.

Job Search Skills

Ed Han, a New Jersey recruiter, who is both an alum and facilitator of job clubs, asked me to emphasize the skills training aspect of job clubs in this post.

He told me about several of his most valuable takeaways:

1. Answering behavioral interview questions.

Ed found the constant practice of developing “situation, action, results” (SAR) vignettes invaluable in learning how to present himself.

He used the SAR model to write resume bullet points, answer mock interview questions, and help other club members with the same.

His familiarity with the model resulted in him being well prepared to meet with potential employers and answer their questions.

2. Understanding applicant tracking systems (ATS).

He had used databases, Boolean logic, and keywords at work.

However, it was his job club that made him understand the ATS as a resume database.

Then it was an easy extension of thought to knowing he had to match the keywords in job postings to the language in his resume.

3. The power of weak connections.

Ed watched job club colleagues get new positions through other job club members.

People who had only known each a short time were able to connect each other to opportunities they wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

4. New job search strategies.

Ed said he hadn’t been aware of job posting aggregators such as Indeed when he joined a job club several years ago.

Through his job club participation, he learned about aggregators and other new ways to identify job openings.

Useful Background Materials

You can learn more about job clubs and job search skills by reading. Recommended guides include:

1. A Job Club Counselors’ Manual, by Nathan Azrin. This book is out of print, but your library can find it for you via interlibrary loan.

2. The Job Club Tool Kit, from the New York State Department of Labor.

Those reference materials will either help you recognize a good club when you find it — or start one.

Job Clubs to Avoid

Avoid clubs that:

1. Allow negativity.

2. Are too big to give each member a five to ten-minute spotlight each meeting.

3. Fail to replenish with new members as existing members graduate.

4. Are networking groups, not job clubs. Anything over 12 members is more likely a networking group than a skills-driven job club.

Why People Don’t Join Job Clubs

I polled a couple of career-related groups I belong to about why people don’t join job clubs and got two types of responses:

1. “Heard of them vaguely. But what are they? Where are they?”

2. “I highly suggest job applicants join a job club as long as it’s a correct fit and run effectively.”

People who know about job clubs recommend them, so please share this post forward!

Back to Our Winners

1. Caryn.

Caryn attended a small club with members at different stages of their job searches.

She found the group helped her refresh her skills, stay focused, and maintain self-accountability.

She started her job search in January and accepted an offer in March.

2. Kathy.

The outplacement firm Kathy’s company hired to help her with her job search steered her to a job club.

She volunteered to chair the Training Committee, which enabled her to keep using her skills and expertise. She said that being able to help others when she was at a low point helped her maintain her confidence and self-esteem.

She also became such a fan of networking that she teaches a class on it at her new organization.

3. Irina.

Irina kept rewriting her resume with input from other job club members. One evening, just before a meeting, she revised it and printed a copy to take with her.

One of the members shared that he had a new job and mentioned he would be building an engineering team. Irina was standing next to him. She asked if he would like to see her resume. After a multi-month process, he became her new boss.

The icing on the cake? Her new company, which she hadn’t even been aware of, is a seven-minute drive from her home.

Why Executives Value Job Clubs

Job Club Benefits for Executives

Chris Kondo, a professor at Cal State Fullerton, researched job club benefits and efficacy for executive-level job seekers. He found that executives who participate in job clubs experience:

1. Up to four times faster re-employment (as measured against control groups).

2. A supportive network.

3. Access to job leads.

4. A broader portfolio of job search strategies.

When we compare Ed’s list of learnings to Chris’ list, we see a considerable overlap.

Where to Find Job Clubs

Do you want to adopt the top habit of exceptionally successful job seekers? Yes? Here are a few ways for you to find a group:

1. Meetup lists 800+ groups around the world here.

2. Ask other job seekers, recently hireds, recruiters, and career professionals if they know about any job clubs. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

3. Many faith-based organizations sponsor groups. Ask your congregation’s leader if he or she knows of a group in your area.

4. Please add groups you know about, and how to reach them, in the Comments section below.

Thank You

I want to offer special thanks to Bob McIntosh, Ed Han, and Ellie Mixter-Keller for their support in preparing this post. Their insights and passion for job clubs made this a better piece.

Bob (Boston) and Ed (Princeton) facilitate groups in their communities. Ellie is a go-to job club information resource in her area (Milwaukee).

Make it your goal to find people like Bob, Ed, and Ellie in your city. They’ll help guide you to the right club. They might even be running it!

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at donnasvei@gmail.com for more information.

Image: Fotolia/zinkevych

© 2017, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

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Comments 8

  1. Thx Donna. #1 AhHa: It’s not just me (struggling with keywords, interviewing, networking, resumes, LinkedIn, etc.)! We have many FREE job clubs in SE WI. Each offer different formats and support depending on the volunteers. Having a supportive, accountable professional group to go to once a week is a big deal .

  2. We always recommend that our jobseekers choose two or three jobseeker networking groups to visit on a very regular basis as well as start their own small accountability group to meet with weekly. the support throughout is much needed to help each other stay positive and the sharing of contacts is priceless. Thanks for all that you do in supporting jobseekers. …..

  3. Thank you for helping us help job seekers! I co-facilitate the Central Kentucky Job Club with two of my colleagues from the University of Kentucky. We are in our 4th year and more and more employers are taking note of the well-prepared candidates they find when they attend Job Club and/or send us job vacancies to share with attendees. A favorite session every 4 months is the “Success Panel of former Job Club participants.” As much as job seekers value the programs and content we provide twice a month is the moral and emotional support and comraderie they experience attending. Thank you again for drawing attention to these free community resources!

  4. Donna, it’s an absolute pleasure to help you with this. I’m a huge fan of job clubs, have been for years. There are a few with which I have personal experience to which I wanted to draw the attention of your readers:

    PSG of Mercer County/PSG of Central NJ/PSG of Morris County/PSG of New Brunswick. Each of these were formerly programs operated by the State of New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development. When the state discontinued the program, these 4 chapters kept right on, finding places to host their gatherings and provide. I personally was affiliated with the first, although all four are excellent resources, especially for those who are mid-late career and seeking support & assistance. The financial services and pharma/life sciences industries in particular are well-represented in these groups. Each group meets weekly and has a guest presentation. Each has an online presence and is easily found via a quick visit to your favorite search engine.

    NJ Job Seekers: a Princeton-based group, this one began in the 80s when there was still a strong stigma associated with not having a job and as such, is a confidential group. This group meets weekly on Tuesday evenings at Trinity Church in Princeton.

    Land Faster: meeting monthly on the 2nd Thursday evening at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Warren, NJ, I founded this group in September. This group is on Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/Land-Faster/

  5. Job clubs ebb and flow with the economy. Here in Central Texas, we have 3 clubs that have stood the test of time.
    Hired Texas https://hiredtexas.org/
    Job Seekers Network http://job-seekers-network.org/
    Launch Pad Job Club http://launchpadjobclub.com/

    All are a little different. All are primarily volunteer run. You need to date job clubs to see what fits you. This includes where they are located.
    What makes a job club right for you? It depends!
    Read the stories above and do you see yourself?

    I have been on the board of Launch Pad Job Club since 2006. Our Friday meeting have gone from 30-40 attendees in 2006, to close to 400 in 2009 and now hover around 50-80. We work to keep our “alumni” connected and unfortunately we see too many repeat customers. It is very disappointing to see members laid off every few years but they know they have a place to come back to and get help.

    If you use a job club and feel you benefited, I ask you to give back, either financially or as a volunteer. Your contribution will be appreciated.

  6. If you’re in the US, you have a Department of Labor Career Center near you! These are free services for anyone who wants to find a job, whether you’re employed, unemployed, never worked, disabled or having any number of challenges. (www.careeronestop.org for info).

    Many Career Centers have Job Clubs that are easy to participate in. They are probably led by staffers who have lots of great, current knowledge about the local job market and can help folks with the networking and the skills building needed for a smart job search.

    As a DOL Employment Counselor, I was a facilitator for our Job Club for years – and discovered that many participants got more out of it than they expected, especially on the emotional end, as they got to see that they weren’t the only ones who were in this situation. Lots of great bonding and sharing. And it was sometimes the only chance all week that some of the job seekers got to talk about themselves as a professional. (Job search is so confidence draining!)

    Our Job Clubbers could practice those elevator speeches every week and get challenged to try new strategies, and sometimes even took time out to mentor each other in lots of different ways.

    I would encourage any job seeker to make it their business to participate in at least 2-3 sessions of a job club as soon as they can. If you don’t like it, you can move on, but they’re a great way to get the lay of the land.

  7. An excellent article, Donna! I’ve been associated as a trainer and exec member of a local job search club for ten years. It continues to thrive and steadily “graduate” members back into the work force.

  8. Never thought about job seeking clubs when I was job searching. I always found different professional meetings and seminars or business forums are more useful. They help you to level up your skills, it’s a great networking tool – personally struck up lots of useful acquaintances.

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