job clubs

Job Clubs: The Top Habit of the Most Successful Job Seekers

This post:
  1. Describes what a job club is.
  2. Explains how a club can help you find a job.
  3. Shows you how much faster you can get a job by participating in a club.
  4. Provides 3 short case histories of job search club users.
  5. Describes the 7 features of the most effective clubs.
  6. Tells you what to avoid in a club.
  7. Shares the 9 best ways to find a club.
  8. 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:

  1. Encourages goal setting and accountability
  2. Helps them learn job search skills
  3. Brainstorms specific challenges
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 overall 2.7 times more likely to find a job than others.
  3. 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.
  4. Azrin got even better results in a study with people who had severe job-finding handicaps (prison records, mental health issues, etc.). 95% of club members found jobs versus 28% of control group members.
  5. 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:

  1. Young job seekers (4.1X accelerator)
  2. Middle-aged job seekers (1.8X impact)
  3. Older job seekers (8.8X impact)
  4. Job-handicapped job seekers (4.6X impact)
  5. Short-term unemployed (3.5X impact)
  6. 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 certain to benefit!

3 Winners

To bring the numbers to life for you, I talked with 3 club alumni:

  1. Caryn, a 30-something job seeker. She had been involved with a job-hunting 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 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:

  1. The benefits of job search clubs
  2. 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.

They are:

  1. Failure
  2. Dependency on others
  3. Rejection
  4. Abandonment

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:

  1. Beat the fears and emotional challenges of unemployment
  2. Build the skills you need to find a job
  3. 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:

  1. Up to 4 times faster re-employment
  2. Supportive networks
  3. Access to job leads
  4. 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:

  1. Encourages proactivity (5.9X success predictor)
  2. Promotes goal setting (4.7X impact)
  3. Provides social support (4.3X impact)
  4. Improves your self-presentation skills (3.4X impact)
  5. Increases your motivation (3.4X impact)
  6. Teaches job search skills (3.3X impact)
  7. 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:

  1. No more than 12 participants
  2. If it’s a large club, breakout groups of 6 to 12 people
  3. Attendance commitments
  4. Facilitated meetings
  5. 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:

  1. 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:

  1. A Job Club Counselors’ Manual, by Nathan Azrin (out of print, ask your library to find it via interlibrary loan)
  2. The Job Club Tool Kit (free .pdf) from the NY State Department of Labor
  3. The Guide for Starting Your Own Job Search Support Group, free from Terrence Seamon and Janice Juvrud
7. What to Avoid

Avoid clubs that:

  1. Allow negativity
  2. Are too big to give each member a 5 to 10-minute spotlight each meeting
  3. Fail to replenish with new members as existing members graduate
  4. 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:

  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.”

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

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.

Kathy

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 keep using her skills and expertise. Kathy said that helping others when she was at a low point 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

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

Another member 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 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:

How to find job clubs via LinkedIn

  1. Enter “job club” and your state in LinkedIn’s search box.
  2. Select People.
  3. I found 758 people who have my search terms on their profiles. Many of them facilitate clubs.
  4. If you get too many hits, use a metro area instead of a state.
  5. If you get too few, try additional terms such as job search group, job search club, job hunting club, and job finding club.
  6. 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
  1. The US Department of Labor provides a club finder through Career One Stop here. The results include government and private clubs.
  2. Libraries often sponsor clubs. Ask your local reference librarian if they know of one in your area.
  3. Many faith-based organizations have clubs. Ask your congregation’s leader if they know of a group in your area.
  4. Professional and industry associations sometimes sponsor clubs. Ask your local chapter if they have or would be willing to start one.
  5. Ask other job seekers, recently hireds, recruiters, and career professionals if they know of any clubs.
  6. Check out Meetup, which lists 750+ groups around the world here.
  7. Check out the comments below. All links are good as of February 2021. 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 depending on the types of clubs you’re looking at.

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 easily.

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:

  1. Provide the most useful features
  2. 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!

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 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!

Featured on CareerSherpa
Image: Fotolia/zinkevych
Updated February 2021

© 2017 – 2021, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 32

  1. Wisconsin:

    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. …..

    40+ of SE Wisconsin
    http://www.40pluswi.org/

  3. New Jersey:

    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.

    https://www.psgofmercercounty.org/

    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.

  4. Texas:

    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.

  5. Many US locations:

    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. (http://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.

    Christina, Thank you. Donna

  6. Ottawa:

    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.

    Jennifer, Thank you! Donna

  7. 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.

  8. CT, DE, GA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, TX, VA:

    I saw a tweet with Landing Expert’s name in it. Alex Freund (Landing Expert) has a unique tool for finding Networking groups especially in the New Jersey area. Here is the Link:

    https://www.landingexpert.com/landing-expert-list-search-location/.

    The list is continually growing. It was recently redesigned and re-engineered by Joel Zief.

    Julie, Thanks for sharing this link. As of Feb. 2021, Alex lists clubs in 9 states (tons in NJ and PA). Donna

  9. Northern California (East Bay) + Across the US:

    I second Christina’s comment above. I manage a One-Stop Career Center in Northern California. Our job club is one of the most dynamic aspect of all our services because job seekers are not just learning from our staff, but from each other and occasional employer/recruiter guest speakers. One of our successful job seekers recently said, “One of the key benefits of [the One-Stop] is that I was no longer feeling alone.” That’s how job clubs are supposed to work. Job seekers can find a federally funded Job Center near them online at careeronestop.org.

    Sarah, Thank you. I edited your comment to add a live link for Career One-Stop! Donna

  10. Massachusetts for 50+ers:

    The 50+ Job Seekers Regional Networking Group.

    Program started with funding from MCOA, the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging. Launched with 3 pilot sites in 1/16.

    2/21 Update: Now in 6th year with 17 locations!

  11. Suffern, New York:

    I would like to add a Job Club to the list. I am the founder and facilitator of the Suffern Professional Networking Team. The team meets on Monday nights (6:30 pm) at Christ Episcopal Church in Suffern, New York.

    The team is for serious job seekers. The team is not for people who are looking to vent about their respective job searches. Instead it is about professionals helping other professionals.

    Savvy Job Hunters – Christ Episcopal Church https://buff.ly/3qHdSAl

    Jeffrey, Thank you for sharing this. Donna

  12. Lowell, MA:

    Wow, what a great resource, Donna. At our career center in Lowell, we have a Job Club which I facilitate. It meets every first and third Tuesday of the month. There are currently 12 members, which I feel is too large for fluid interaction, but only about 9 people will show at a given time. Still, I agree that 6 participants makes for an optimal group.

    The first Tuesday is dedicated to group discussion on various topics, such as difficult interview questions, pre-interview assessments, successful job-search techniques, etc. The third Tuesday is for mock interviews. I or other members will interview a “chosen participant.” Mock interviews are great tools for people who are in the interviewing process.

    I spearheaded this group and it’s become one of my favorite, most successful endeavors. While approximately half the people who’ve attended landed–we had one graduate yesterday–I would love to see all of them announce their “Happy Landing.” Because, as it was said, Job Clubs should have rotating members.

    https://buff.ly/3aDtKOX

    Bob, Thank you for sharing this. Donna

  13. Richmond, VA:

    Charlie Wood, Joseph A. Crowley, and John McClung run a fabulous job club called Career Prospectors in Richmond, VA #RVA.

    Here is the Career Prospector’s website: http://career-prospectors.com.

    Career Prospector’s meets on Tuesday mornings at 7:30 am for networking and 8 am. Speakers present on various job search topics.

    Thank you, Leanne Raynor, for the link and info!

    Donna

  14. Glen Allen, VA:

    https://saint-mikes.org/jobs-assistance-ministry

    Interested folks may request to join the closed Meetup group for details about the meetings and training opportunities. There are industry specific subgroups called Roundtable groups that meet every other week. There are small groups referred to as accountability groups that meet on a weekly basis.

    Thank you, Leanne Raynor, for the link and info!

    Donna

  15. Great article, Donna. And so important for job seekers and career changers to find a “job club” that they can tap into. For any job seekers that live in an area without much job club activity, they can start one quite easily by following a simple guide that I co-wrote with Janice Lee Juvrud. If anyone is interested, please email me for a copy. Keep up the great work, Donna!
    Terry

    Terry, Thank you. I added a link in the text of the article. Donna

  16. Greater Philadelphia Area / Delaware Valley (PA, NJ, DE)

    Join the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit. The meetup is free to join and it’s easy to RSVP to speaker events, workshops, networking socials, career success groups (aka job clubs), career fairs, and more. We support veterans and are all inclusive. The links to join the meetup and a list of upcoming events is on our website at http://www.greatcareersphl.org We have many new and exciting initiatives happening, so stay tuned! Inquiries can go to [email protected]

    Lynne, Thank you! Donna

  17. Washington DC/National Capital Area:

    http://www.40plus-dc.org/

    For professionals age 40 and older. $650 fee. Less than one day’s earnings for a $150,000 /year executive. Bound to put you back to work faster than that.

    Don’t balk at making high ROI investments in your job search. It’s REALLY expensive to be unemployed.

  18. Another idea: Are you finishing a graduate degree? I just learned of a group of graduate students in a cohort-based, global program who have formed a bi-weekly job club to help each other with their job searches. Smart!!!

  19. Hi Donna, I constantly read articles and relevant information via LinkedIn but somehow this one escaped me. This is the 1st time that I see this. In fact, here I see that you have done already a lot of legwork aggregating various pieces of information about job search networking groups. Bravo.
    However, what occurred to me is that as long as this information is not found by those that need it, it becomes futile. As I said earlier in my response to Julie Bondy Roberts via LinkedIn that this information can easily be directed to the Landing Expert list, the list of job search networking groups via my website. It is a searchable database used by hundreds of people BUT I can not chase group leaders and ask them to provide me the information for this database. They have to initiate the addition or any changes. here is the link to the form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe-w2CEbPB0D4yyj2jm6QainjAfKrI3XVQHeCuE_ZFrZ_fpmA/viewform?c=0&w=1
    I would gladly make my contribution by adding them on.

    Alex, Thank you. The list keeps getting longer! Donna

  20. Maryland:

    Donna, thank you for a great article about job clubs. We offer a weekly Job Club group at the Carroll County Business / Employment Resource Center (BERC) in Westminster Maryland. The Job Club meets on Mondays, from 12:30 pm to 2 pm. Here is our website, http://www.carrollworks.com and phone #: 410-386-2820. BERC is located at 224 N. Center St., Westminster MD.

    Best Wishes, Scott

    Scott Singleton

    Business Consultant, CBEP
    224 N. Center St., Westminster, MD 21157
    Phone: 410-386-2521 Fax: 410-876-2977

    Scott, Thank you! Donna

  21. What an excellent post giving proof that job clubs work and highlighting the importance of them for job seekers. Most job seekers don’t even know they exist.

    The support you get in a job club vital. In our experience, many job seekers become depressed and/or discouraged if they don’t have a strong support network and that reduces their productivity.

    What a worthwhile endeavor a job club is. If the club helps you get employed even 3 weeks faster, that’s 3 weeks of pay you wouldn’t have had!

    Donna, I agree wholeheartedly! Thank you, Donna

  22. Jacob,

    Thank you. I added the link above. This is a great resource with background, communications templates, etc.!

    Donna

  23. San Francisco Bay Area:

    If you want to work in the Bay Area, check out The Job Forum of San Francisco. Weekly, virtual, Wednesday meetings. Volunteers from top companies like LinkedIn, Salesforce, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and more! https://thejobforum.org/

  24. Central Kentucky:

    The Central Kentucky Job Club began in 2013. In March 2020, we quickly switched to a virtual format. Our program is free and open to the public. For more details go to: http://www.ukalumni.net/jobclub.

    The purpose of Job Club is to provide a positive environment for motivated job seekers to meet, connect, share and learn. The free group is open to the public and meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, from 9:00–10:15 a.m. Job Club is for you if you are a motivated professional and currently out of work, underemployed or looking to make a career transition. In addition, recruiters and employers are always welcome and introduced to Job Club attendees.

    Caroline, Thanks for sharing this! Donna

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