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How a Job Club Can Help You Find Work

5 ways these social groups can help you get hired

The old saying “two heads are better than one” is a cliché because it is often true.

A recent U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) 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.

(MORE: Why Many Job Postings Are Ridiculous)

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. Here are 5 ways they can help: 
1. Seeing that you are not alone in your job search struggles When you are 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 employers and job seekers. If you don't understand what works best now, your job search will be longer and harder.

(MORE: How Good Are 'Over 50' Job Boards?)

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, resumés 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 there 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. Just remember to shut down that smartphone, or, at least, turn off the ringer when you arrive.
Finding Job Clubs
Here are the best places to look to find a job club:
  • 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 local places of worship often provide free space without requiring a religious affiliation.
  • Your city or town hall Meetings may not happen in a local government building, but towns often maintain lists of groups to help local residents 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.
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.

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been studying, writing, and teaching smart online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and currently a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Founder and President of NETability, Inc., Susan is owner, editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org and WorkCoachCafe.com, both named by Forbes as Best Websites for Your Career.

Susan P. Joyce
By Susan P. Joyce
Susan P. Joyce is editor and chief writer at Job-hunt.org and and chief blogger at Workcoachcafe.com, websites devoted to helping job seekers find employment. She is also a visiting scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management.@JobHuntOrg

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