Job Clubs Can Boost Your Job Search Success

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The old saying "two heads are better than one" is a cliche because it is often true. A recent U.S. Department of Labor study reported that 74 percent of "older workers" participating in U.S. DOL job clubs were employed after 12 weeks of attendance. On the other hand, only 22 percent of job seekers the same age who did not participate in job clubs were employed within the same time frame.

From 22 percent success to 75 percent success - that's a pretty good payoff.

Leveraging Job Clubs to Beat Today's Tough Job Market

Based on my observation of job clubs over the last 20 years, I'm not surprised that job seekers who meet regularly with other job seekers are more successful than those who don't. And, the job club (or job search support group) doesn't need to be affiliated with DOL to be effective. In fact, many effective groups I've seen are run by job seekers, with and without professional help.

5 Direct Job Club Benefits

Most job clubs can be very helpful to today's job seeker in a number of ways. So, make a habit of shutting down your computer, tablet, or smart phone browser, and attend a local job club meeting. At least once a week, if possible.

1. Seeing that you are not alone in your job search struggles.

When you are alone at your computer and not succeeding at your job search, you can begin to think that you are the only person who doesn't know how to land a job. Attending job clubs will help you see that other smart competent people are also struggling.

2. Catching up on the new job search techniques that work best today.

A big part of the reason job hunting is so tough now is because MUCH has changed in the last few years. The combination of new technologies (social media with search engines) plus a tough economy have changed the hiring process dramatically for both employers and job seekers. If you don't understand what works best now, your job search will be longer and harder.

3. Giving and receiving help.

Share information and your knowledge with other job seekers. It's a great feeling to help someone else, demonstrating to yourself that you can be very useful, even if you don't have a job. And the other group members can help you proofread and, probably, improve your LinkedIn Profile, resumes, and other job search documents.

4. Expanding your network.

You'll meet many new people. Connect with them on LinkedIn, particularly if you don't have 500 Connections yet. Then, stay in touch as you progress in your careers, continuing to help each other succeed.

5. Disconnecting from your technology.

It's very addictive -- and feels very productive -- to be on the web, searching, doing email, finding and applying for jobs. But, often, it is not really a good way to spend very much time. Attending job clubs will help you get away from your technology, meeting real, live people face to face (F2F!). Just remember to shut down that smart phone, or, at least, turn off the ringer when you arrive.

Finding Job Clubs

Here are the best places to look:
  • Your local public library. Often groups meet on a monthly or weekly basis, usually supported or managed by a library staffer.
  • A local place of worship. Groups typically need free meeting space since there is often no charge for attending. The basements of the local places of worship often provide free space, often without requiring a religious affiliation for the group.
  • Your city or town hall. Meetings may not happen in a local government building, but towns often maintain lists of groups to help local citizens regain employment.
  • U.S. Department of Labor Directory by State
When you are paying attention, you'll find job clubs everywhere.

Stick with Them

Don't fold your tent after attending one meeting of one group, unless it's a "pity party" (skip those)! Hopefully, you will find the group helpful enough that you will want to continue to attend. But, any group can have a bad meeting occasionally, so, if you were not impressed with the first meeting, attend at least one more before you decide not to attend again. And check for other groups, too. You don't need to limit yourself to one group.

AOL Jobs contributor John Fugazzie runs one of the country's best known independent job clubs, Neighbors helping Neighbors (NhN). John shares some of his insights in his article, The Role of Job Clubs in a Job Search.
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