Job Seekers Should Participate in Networking and Support Groups

Part 1: 3 Types of Networking Groups Job Seekers Should Participate in and 4 Reasons Why

Editor’s Note: The following is the first of a two-part series and is being reprinted with permission from Part 2 will be published on March 15th at

By Paul Cecala

I was working with a client who, after several months of struggling alone, reached out to me. One of my first recommendations was for him to participate in a job-seeker networking group I co-facilitated. At the third meeting he attended the guest speaker was an amazing executive recruiter who upon hearing his 30-second introduction said, “you need to call me later today. I have a job for you.” Two weeks later he was interviewing and a month later he was employed.

Finding a job can be a lonely, isolating activity, but it does not have to be. There are several things you can do to help stave off that loneliness – like participating in job seeker networking or support groups. Let me share with you some reasons for participating and the different types of groups that are out there. In part 2 of the 2-part series I will tell you how to find these groups, how to start one if there are none in your area, and how to make the best use of them. You can find it at


There has been lots written about how job search can be a lonely experience. Many people find it depressing and isolating. But there are things you can do to overcome that loneliness and that will make your job search more productive.

In fact, I wrote a book called “Work Search Buddies: Finding A Job With A Little Help From A Friend,” which provides the step-by-step process for finding a work search accountability buddy and how to conduct the relationship. To get a copy, go to

But why attend job seeker groups?

1. They are often motivational. Most groups will ask members who landed a position to share their experiences and what they found to be most successful things to do in a search. Plus, most people feel good when they hear of other people’s good fortune. For a quick emotional “pick me up,” share in someone else’s success.

2. Learn from others’ experiences.

Why make the same mistakes as everyone else? At these meetings, especially during the pre- and post- meeting networking, other job seekers will gladly share their experiences and missteps as well as the things they found useful and successful to do. Learn from their experiences.

3. Expand your Network.

At these meetings you will meet hosts of other people with a myriad of backgrounds, expertise, and connections. Most will be willing to share their expertise and connections with you once they get to know you a bit on the expectation you will share yours with them. Often, the facilitators of the groups will know enough about participants to recommend connections between members.

4. Hear from Experts.

The group’s facilitator(s) and guest speakers are expert career coaches, HR professionals, and recruiters who will offer their knowledge on topics of interest to job seekers sometimes through presentations. For example, topics might include how to use LinkedIn, writing an effective resume, how to better network, or improved interviewing skills. By attending these sessions, you will get the current “best practices” from the experts on how to conduct a successful job search.


In my experience as a professional career coach, there are 3 primary types of networking or support groups for job seekers. Each has its distinct advantages and disadvantages as well as specific purpose. I often recommend clients attend a mix of these groups based on several factors. These include: What is your goal for attending the group today? Be sure to have a clear reason for spending your valuable time with this group. Is the speaker’s topic important to you? You want to learn something that will support your job search success. Can you make a good networking connection with a recruiter or attendee? Have a plan for who you want to connect with and why. These are just a few goals you might set for attending.

1. Speakers Groups

The general format for these groups is that everyone gathers for some networking then there will be a formal presentation by an expert on a topic related to job search. They are often real helpful and educational. I suggest people attend no more than 1 per week, preferably 1 per month. The key is to attend when the topic is of interest to you, or you know there is an attendee that you want to meet. An example of a group I co-facilitate is the Professional Support Group of Morris County (

2. Strategic Planning Groups

This group (my favorite type!) differs from the speaker’s style in that there is that each participant gets a period of time (usually about 10-15 minutes) to share their current job search status including their recent challenge (What is keeping you from success since out last meeting?). Then the group spends about 10 minutes brainstorming solutions to the person’s challenge. There is usually a facilitator (often a career coach) who keeps the conversation going. Everyone gets a chance to gain guidance from the group. The whole concept is that together the group has the answers and knows, from their personal experiences, what is working; so, you all learn from each other.

I strongly encourage people to find a good strategic group and attend it regularly because you can get real-world guidance from others in the thick of their own job search. They often meet weekly or every two weeks.

I support and co-facilitate 3 groups of this type right now: Executives In Job Transition open to any professional in job search ( The YoJo Club for job seekers under 30 years old ( OUTStanding Careers Group for members of the LGBTQ+ community to safely seek assistance ( It is important that neither of these two types of groups become gripe or venting sessions. Their purpose is clear and defined to provide you the assistance needed to move your job search forward.

3. Therapeutic/General Support Groups

This would be a more traditional style of “group therapy” or “support group” offering. There is a place for it if you are wanting to vent or need counseling to help with deeper depression or anxiety. There are some that primarily or solely admit job seekers into the group. Often, ideas for helping move the job search forward come out of the conversations. But the primary focus is to help the participants with emotional issues not necessarily job search techniques.

Again, be sure there is good value coming from the group for the time you spend attending. There is a time and place in one’s life where such a group may be necessary. If so, take advantage and attend.

For all these groups, only attend if you are getting value from them. One of your most precious commodities during job search is time. It is the only resource you cannot get back once it’s gone. Also, some groups are meeting in-person, some are virtual (via Zoom or the like) and some are set-up to do both. Many that offer a virtual meeting component allow participation without regard to geographic limitations. For example, all the groups I co-facilitate mentioned above are meeting virtually.

One additional caution about all these groups – They are just one part of an overall job search strategy. While they do offer value, they will not, in and of themselves, get you job opportunities. Networking, proactively seeking hiring managers to speak with, and (to a lesser extent) applying to jobs are the activities that will get you interviews. Interviews get you jobs. Use these group resources appropriately to help you do more and better networking, and interviewing.

Watch for Part 2 of this series where I will share how to start a group or how to find one.

About the Author:

Paul Cecala, a Global Career Developmental Facilitator (GCDF) certified career coach, is a principal at Cecala Career Consultants with decades of experience as a career coach helping individuals with finding career success. He has taught over 500 seminars and workshops on conducting successful job searches and authored books on the topic. Mr. Cecala can be reached at