Have you thought about joining a job search club?
If you’ve been actively job hunting any amount of time, you know how daunting and discouraging it can be.
Rejection, fear and feelings of inadequacy are just some of the many things you’re grappling with. Physical pain is sometimes even in the mix.
Top that off with the difficulties you’re probably having with family and friends who don’t understand what you’re going through. They can be insensitive and often say the wrong things.
Even though you know most job seekers are going through the same kinds of things you are, it doesn’t make it much easier for you.
What might make it easier is if you could share the bad experiences (and the triumphs) with other job seekers.
That’s what a job search club is all about.
What Is a Job Search Club and Do They Really Work?
Job search clubs, either virtual or in-person, are regularly scheduled meetings for job seekers to network with each other for support, to set goals, to give and get advice, and to share job leads.
LinkedIn News Senior Editor Andrew Seaman spoke with career coach Bob McIntosh who discussed the hallmarks of a good job search club:
“The ultimate sign of a successful job search club is whether its members are actually landing jobs. Of course, people need to be realistic about what they expect. For example, many people expect instant success from a job search club. Like anything, it takes time to build up connections and make progress.
Another pitfall is attending a job-search club where you don’t participate. You’re not helping yourself or others by not participating.”
How successful are these clubs?
Executive resume writer Donna Svei outlined research showing that clubs significantly accelerate job search:
- 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.
How to Find the Right Job Search Club for You
Donna Svei continues with meta-analysis from Professor Liu (noted above) who advises looking 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)
The best clubs are ones that hold you accountable, and get you to set goals and keep them.
Additionally, she suggests looking for clubs that:
- Have no more than 12 members. If larger than that, they should have breakout groups of 6-12.
- Require attendance commitments
- Provide facilitated meetings
- Include sharing by former members who’ve recently landed jobs
Where to find job search clubs
- CareerOneStop’s Job Club Finder
- Jacob Share’s (JobMob) extensive list of job clubs around the world
- Sarah Johnston’s (Briefcase Coach) map of job clubs
- Local libraries, where club meeting are often held
- Ask your job search network for recommendations
- Look for clubs on MeetUp
- Community colleges and local universities often have job clubs
- Professional affiliations sometimes have job clubs
Can’t Find a Club That Meets Your Needs? Start Your Own
Career advice expert Katharine Hansen offered some of the questions to consider when starting a job club:
- How many members should you have?
- Where and how often should you meet?
- Should you charge dues or fees?
- Who should lead the group?
- What rules need to be set?
She notes that many clubs follow the model developed by Nathan Azrin (noted earlier) for their weekly meetings:
- Members spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting sharing results and accomplishments of the previous week’s job hunting.
- Members ask the group for support in specific areas. This portion of the meeting is a problem-solving and brainstorming session. Members can ask for advice, support, leads, ideas, strategies, and direct assistance. It’s in this section of the meeting where a professional facilitator may be the most useful.
- The meeting ends with members stating their job-search goals for the upcoming week. Members should set goals that can realistically be accomplished by the time of the next meeting. Here, it may be helpful to lay out some good benchmarks, such as a productive yet realistic number of contacts that members should strive to add to their networks each week.
According to Azrin, job club efforts will be more successful if:
- Job seekers have a specific goal or focus for their job search. Members should have a good idea of what kind of job they want.
- Job seekers are well acquainted with their own skills, abilities, and interests. Members should be able to articulate verbally and in writing at least five skills and abilities that they would bring to a job.
- Job seekers have considerable knowledge of the employers they wish to approach.
- Job seekers follow a particular pattern in the way they conduct their research.
The advice above about starting a job search club can also be applied to improve any existing job club you may join.
Go Further with Job Search Clubs and Try Co-Mentoring
Once you’ve been in a job search club a little while, you may connect in a special way with a particular member or two.
Think about approaching them with a co-mentoring proposition.
The idea with co-mentoring in job search is to partner with another job seeker to support each other throughout the process. Someone who:
- You can pool resources with, and share connections and job search tips learned along the way.
- You can swap experiences with to minimize negative impact.
- Will keep you accountable for doing the necessary job search work.
- Will be there when you’re having a bad day.
- Help you stay positive, which is critical throughout job search.
Career Advisor Marty Nemko outlined a model of co-mentoring:
- Pick a person you respect, who is benevolent of spirit, a patient and perceptive listener who also is able to come up with smart solutions.
- Agree to meet periodically—weekly, semi-weekly, or monthly for an agreed amount of time, perhaps 30 minutes or an hour.
- In the first half of the session, you present a problem on which you’d like your “mentor’s” input or reflective listening.
- In the second half of the session, reverse roles.
The many benefits of co-mentoring include:
- Free consulting with someone who is currently living through the same things you are
- The possibility of a new friendship lasting beyond the co-mentoring relationship
- Learning all kinds of new things about how job search works
- Getting deeper insight into yourself
Granted, co-mentoring with a competitor targeting the same jobs as you may not work for you. But in your networking efforts you may come across someone who is in a similar job search and has the same level of expertise as you. She/he may be a good fit as a co-mentor.
Reciprocity is critical for co-mentoring to be mutually beneficial. If you both equally balance give-and-take, I think co-mentoring can work for you as you both navigate the ups and downs of job search.