Job seekers need not face the challenge of making a career move alone these days. By joining a job club, you can benefit from from the support, knowledge and network of others people looking for new job opportunities.
The still-tight labor market has spawned rapid creation of job clubs in communities across the country. The clubs, which typically meet in person, offer career advancement resources and prime networking opportunities. Importantly, they also provide a strong support network for the recently unemployed or for those who have been out of work for extended periods of time.
The clubs have the backing of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department has promoted a Jobs Club Initiative that has included regional events in several cities including Phoenix, Kansas City and Minneapolis. The events are aimed at raising awareness about the estimated 10,000 clubs nationwide, while strengthening ties with public and private partners, including employers and community foundations.
Ashley Gerwitz, job club coordinator for the U.S. Department of Labor writes that the clubs often provide direct access to employers as well as specialized training such as social media basics. Gerwitz calls job clubs “one of the unsung heroes of our economic recovery.”
Indeed, Katharine Hansen, Ph.D. says job clubs play an important role for those who are unemployed by focusing on mutual support and encouragement. Yet, Hansen points out the value reaches far beyond emotional support. She cites research from “What Color is Your Parachute” author Nelson Boiles that found an 84 percent success rate when job-searching techniques are conducted in groups, compared with a 15 percent lower rate when the same techniques are followed individually.
So how can you get involved? A good place to start is Job-Hunt.org, a site that features state-by-state directory of job clubs and other related resources. Also check your local employment office and career centers as well as the library or group listings in the local newspaper.
If a local club doesn’t exist, you can start one on your own. “Good Morning America” has featured job clubs in recent years and has published some good information about getting a local club off the ground. In addition, the South Carolina State Library offers a step-by-step guide to establishing a job club through a local library.
Resources can also be found at Neighbors-helping-Neighbors, an organization founded by John Fugazzie, a New Jersey man who launched the club after he lost his job in the retail industry a few years ago. Since then, more than 230 people of the 1,000-plus who have attended his meetings have found work.
USA Today recently featured Fugazzie’s efforts to expand Neighbors-helping-Neighbors on a national scale. “Making an impact on people’s lives is so much better than hitting a sales target,” Fugazzie told the newspaper.
Indeed, job clubs offer a unique opportunity to connect and learn from others who are in a similar situation — and you may end up helping out a fellow job seeker as well.