- Describes what a job club is
- Explains how a club can help you find a job
- Shows you how much faster you can get a job by participating in a club
- Provides 3 short case histories of job search club users
- Describes the 7 features of the most effective clubs
- Tells you what to avoid in a club
- Shares the 9 best ways to find a club
- Provides all the information you need to start a job-finding club
What Is a Job Club?
First, let’s learn what these clubs are.
A job-hunting club is a structured, virtual or in-person weekly meeting, usually lasting about 2 hours, that does the following for its members:
- Encourages goal setting and accountability
- Helps them learn job search skills
- Brainstorms specific challenges
- Provides social and emotional support
Will a Job Club Help Me Find a Job?
Research across socioeconomic groups and countries has shown these clubs consistently speed up members’ job searches:
- Cal State Fullerton professor, Christopher Kondo, found that executives in a job search club landed jobs 4 times faster than members of a control group. In fact, he titled his paper A Tale of Hares and Tortoises.
- Georgia State professor, Songqi Liu, conducted a meta-analysis of the job search intervention literature. He found job seekers who participate in job search interventions are 2.7 times more likely to find a job than others.
- A study led by Southern Illinois University professor, Nathan Azrin, found that 66% of welfare recipients who used a job-hunting club were employed 6 months later. Only 34% of the control group had the same success.
- Azrin got even better results in a study with people with severe job-finding handicaps (prison records, mental health issues, etc.). 95% of club members found jobs versus 28% of control group members.
- Pieter Vermeer of Job On in the Netherlands recently gave me a similar anecdotal report regarding job seekers’ success in volunteer-led clubs across Holland.
Azrin also noted that members showed increased self-efficacy about job search skills and decreased levels of depression.
A study by Abbas Behzadimoghaddam echoed Azrin. He found students in Mashad, Iran who participated in clubs reported significantly greater self-efficacy and more hope about their careers than their peers.
Is a Job Club Right for Me?
Most clubs are open to all comers.
Professor Liu’s meta-analysis found that clubs help:
- Young job seekers (4.1X accelerator)
- Middle-aged job seekers (1.8X impact)
- Older job seekers (8.8X impact)
- Job-handicapped job seekers (4.6X impact)
- Short-term unemployed (3.5X impact)
- Long-term unemployed (1.7X impact)
As you can see, mileage varies, but even the lowest impact translates into a materially faster job search!
Beyond that, Andrew Cartmel’s research in Australia found that clubs’ job skills training success was consistent across personality types.
Thus, pick a good club and give it a try; you’re almost sure to benefit!
To bring the numbers to life for you, I talked with 3 club alumni:
- Caryn, a 30-something job seeker. In her last search, she had been involved with a job-hunting club and knew she was going back.
- 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.
- Irina, a 60-something engineer. She wanted help with her resume, so she joined a job club.
A little later in this post, I’ll describe how their clubs helped Caryn, Kathy, and Irina with their job searches.
8 Keys to Understanding Job Clubs
But first, let’s cover 8 key areas that will help you understand:
- The benefits of job search clubs
- How to find a club that will work best for you
1. Our Deepest Fears About Unemployment
First, being without work can bring out our most deeply seated fears.
- Dependency on others
Those fears can morph into depression if you lack social support. As Azrin noted, clubs provide an antidote to depression.
2. What are the Benefits of Joining a Job Club?
Next, joining a job club will help you:
- Beat the fears and emotional challenges of unemployment
- Build the skills you need to find a job
- Succeed faster
3. Why Executives Value Job Clubs
Chris Kondo, the Cal State Fullerton professor mentioned above, researched job club benefits and efficacy for executive-level job seekers. He found that executives who participate in these clubs experience:
- Up to 4 times faster re-employment
- Supportive networks
- Access to job leads
- A broader portfolio of job search strategies
4. What to Look for in a Job Search Club
Per Professor Liu’s meta-analysis, look for a club that:
- Encourages proactivity (5.9X success predictor)
- Promotes goal setting (4.7X impact)
- Provides social support (4.3X impact)
- Improves your self-presentation skills (3.4X impact)
- Increases your motivation (3.4X impact)
- Teaches job search skills (3.3X impact)
- Boosts your self-efficacy (3.3X impact)
As you can see from the above, a club with accountability mechanisms that encourage you to set and accomplish goals will likely be the most helpful.
Also, a club that provides all the interventions will do more for you than one that doesn’t.
In addition, experienced clubbers suggest these interactive elements:
- No more than 12 participants
- If it’s a large club, breakout groups of 6 to 12 people
- Attendance commitments
- Facilitated meetings
- Sharing by newly-hired, former members
5. Job Search Skills
Ed Han, a New Jersey recruiter, plus club facilitator and alum, asked me to emphasize the skills training benefits of job clubs.
He told me about 4 of his most valuable takeaways:
- Answering behavioral interview questions
Ed found the constant practice of developing “situation, action, results” (SAR) vignettes invaluable in learning how to present himself.
2. Understanding applicant tracking systems (ATS)
Ed’s club helped him understand the ATS as the resume database it is. It was then an easy extension of thought to knowing he had to match the keywords in job postings to his resume’s language.
3. The power of weak connections and the hidden job market
Ed watched members who barely knew each other share information about unadvertised job openings.
4. New job search strategies
Ed said he hadn’t been aware of job posting aggregators such as Google Jobs and Indeed. He learned about those sites and other new ways to identify job openings through his club.
6. Useful Background Materials
You can learn more about job clubs, including how to start one, by reading.
Recommended guides include:
- A Job Club Counselors’ Manual, by Nathan Azrin (out of print, ask your library to find it via interlibrary loan)
- The Job Club Tool Kit, from the NY State Department of Labor (also out of print but I have the .pdf, connect with me on LinkedIn and ask for a copy)
- The Guide for Starting Your Own Job Search Support Group, free from Terrence Seamon and Janice Juvrud
7. What to Avoid
Avoid clubs that:
- Allow negativity
- Are too big to give each member a 5 to 10-minute spotlight each meeting
- Fail to replenish with new members as existing members graduate
- Are networking groups, not full-featured job search clubs
8. 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 2 types of responses:
- “Heard of them vaguely. But what are they? Where are they?”
- “I highly suggest job applicants join a job club as long as it’s a correct fit and run effectively.”
As you can see, people who know about job clubs recommend them, so please share this post forward!
Back to Our Winners
Now, let’s find out what happened to Caryn, Kathy, and Irina:
Caryn attended a small club with members at different stages of job search.
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.
The outplacement firm Kathy’s company hired to help her with her job search steered her to a club.
She volunteered to chair the Training Committee, which enabled her to use her skills and expertise. Kathy said that helping others when she was low was key to maintaining her confidence and self-esteem.
She became such a believer that she added a course on networking to the training curriculum at her new company.
Irina kept rewriting her resume with input from other job club members. One evening, she revised it and printed a copy to take to a meeting.
Another member shared that he had a new job and mentioned 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 hired her.
The icing on the cake? She hadn’t even been aware of her new company, which is a 7-minute drive from her home.
How to Find Clubs via LinkedIn
If you’re wondering, “How do I find a job club?” try this LinkedIn search:
- Enter “job club” and your state in LinkedIn’s search box.
- Select People.
- I found 3,300 people in the U.S. who have the term “job club” on their profiles and 6,300 globally. Many of them facilitate clubs.
- If you get too many hits, use a metro area instead of a state.
- If you get too few, try additional terms such as job search group, job search club, job hunting club, and job finding club.
- Reach out to facilitators of interest to learn more about their clubs.
I like this approach because it gets you to current information. Libraries and faith-based groups, which I mention below, do the same. Directories can be helpful, but they can also be outdated.
How to Find Job Clubs Near You
- The US Department of Labor provides a club finder through Career One Stop. The results include government and private clubs.
- Libraries often sponsor clubs. Ask your local reference librarian if they know of one in your area.
- Many faith-based organizations have clubs. Ask your congregation’s leader if they know of a group in your area.
- Professional and industry associations sometimes sponsor clubs. Ask your local chapter if they have or would be willing to start one.
- Ask other job seekers, recently hireds, recruiters, and career professionals if they know of any clubs.
- Check out Meetup, which lists 550+ groups around the world here.
- Check out the comments below. Please feel free to add a club!
Is There Any Difference Between Secular and Faith-Based Job Clubs?
It’s good to know there might be distinctions between secular and non-secular clubs.
For instance, a study sponsored by the US Department of Labor found that secular groups emphasize job search skills, while faith-based groups often provide more spiritual and emotional support.
In Faith, Hope & Jobs, Calvin College Research Fellow Stephen Monsma reported on research that found faith-based organizations tend to emphasize soft job search skills over hard skills.
Thus, be aware of the potential for different emphases.
How to Find A Virtual Job Club
Also, in looking for a club, remember the pandemic has driven most job clubs online. Thus, you can check them out pretty quickly.
You might try the San Francisco Job Forum.
Founded in 1952, sponsored by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and staffed by volunteers from some of the Bay Area’s most desirable employers, it’s the oldest continuous job club in the US.
The Job Forum hosts online meetings on Wednesday and Thursday evenings each week. Wednesdays are for custom advice. Thursdays are for workshops.
You can also google: “job club” AND virtual.
That will give you a ton of hits and ideas about how to add another AND operator to your search string to refine your results.
Why Start a Job Club?
If you can’t find a club, why not start one?
That way, you’ll be sure to:
- Provide the most valuable features
- Fit any needs you have for industry, professional, or career-level specialization
You can also go national or global with a virtual club.
This post gives you all the tools you need to get started!
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 search clubs made it better.
Bob (Boston) and Ed (Princeton) facilitate groups in their communities. Ellie is a go-to 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!
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Featured on CareerSherpa
Updated January 2022
© 2017 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
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