Part 2: Where to find Job Seeker Networking Groups or How to Start Your Own
Editor’s Note: The following is the second part of a two-part series and is being reprinted with permission from https://cecalacareer-com/career-advice-blog/
To combat the loneliness of job search, I and other career coaches recommend you attend job seeker networking or support groups. These groups offer a variety of benefits and come in many different shapes and sizes.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, I shared three different types of groups available to job seekers and four reasons why you should attend one. You can find Part 1 at https://cecalacareer-com/career-advice-blog/part-1-why-join-a-networking-group-as-a-job-seeker Here we will look at where you can go to find a group. If there are none readily available to you, then why not start one yourself? We explore how to do that.
THEY GO BY DIFFERENT NAMES
Job seeker networking and support groups have a variety of names. The end result, no matter the name, is the same – you get either direct assistance and guidance, or professional education on the job search process. Here are some typical names. I am sure there are others.
The last word, “Club” or “Group” is interchangeable in all cases.
Job Networking Groups
Job Seeker Clubs
Job Search Groups
Career Coaching Groups
Any of these will be good internet search terms when looking to find an appropriate group for your needs. I typically search google by putting in the phrase, “Job seeker clubs (or groups or any of the above terms) near me.”
Most of these groups are available at no cost or for very nominal fees (A free will donation or a fee up to $10-$20 per session). Most organizations and professionals see these groups as a way to “give back” to the community they serve, hence the low cost.
WHERE TO FIND A GROUP
STATE DOL: When searching the internet, the most common results you will get include your state Department of Labor (DOL) website. These sites often have a host of resources so finding the job seeker groups may be challenging. It is worth exploring just to see all the resources available to you, courtesy of your tax dollars.
ONE-STOP CAREER CENTER: One of the major resources sponsored by the DOL and funded by the US DOL is your local Career One-Stop sometimes known as “American Job Center.” You can search under either term. Below is the US DOL website to find your local office. Then you can search their services for a group meeting. Often, they offer a series of free-standing seminars or webinars that act as a speaker-style group because people will attend the entire series. https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/AmericanJobCenters/find-american-job-centers.aspx
MEETUP.ORG: It has been said you can find a group for almost anything on MeetUp. Using any of the above search terms will result in local groups. Two groups I co-facilitate can be found
there. They are:
The YoJo Club – for job seekers under 30 years old (https://www.meetup.com/the-yo-jo-club-young-job-seekers-club/)
OUTStanding Careers Group – for members of the LGBTQ+ community to safely seek assistance (https://www.meetup.com/philadelphia-area-great-careers-group/events/289049533/)
PUBLIC LIBRARIES: Many public libraries across the country sponsor one-off workshops as well as regular weekly programming for job seekers. Two big examples are the Chicago Public Library’s Career Center or the Free Library of Philadelphia Career Center. Even small town libraries offer such programming. For example, in New Jersey (where I am based) the Westfield Free Public Library and the Princeton Public Library both offer regular programming for job seekers.
CHURCH CAREER MINISTRIES: I am amazed at the number of religious organizations around the US that offer career and networking groups as part of their ministries. One of the most extensive and well organized I have seen is the Jewish Vocational Services. Search for “Jewish Vocational Services near me.” But many churches at both the local and regional levels (Diocese, districts, etc.) offer services. In most cases these services are open to anyone no matter your personal beliefs or religious affiliation.
OUTPLACEMENT ORGANIZATIONS: There are a number of for-profit companies whose business is assisting the unemployed with their job search. These “outplacement firms” are usually contracted by an employer to offer services to employees being laid off. If you are fortunate enough to have such services available to you, take advantage of the group programing they offer.
OTHER RESOURCES: There are a variety of organizations developing and maintaining lists of job seeker groups. Most of these private, non-profit organizations depend on the leader of the groups to maintain the information so it is possible the information is dated. Here are a few examples of such lists: https://www.mynetworkingcentral.com/map/ https://careerdfw.org/J/groups/networking-groups.html
There are some designed for specific industries or professions. For example: http://www.FENG.org (Financial Executives Networking Group) NJSENG (New Jersey Senior Executive Networking Group), BENG (Business Executive Networking Group – now part of www.GreatCareers.org).
Often industry professional associations will sponsor groups for their members. For example, I know several http://www.PMI.org chapters (Project Management Institute) offer job search programming for their members.
Since COVID many of the organizations referenced in this article are offering their services virtually, some have come back to in-person, and some are offering a mix of in-person, hybrid or virtual services.
HOW TO START YOUR OWN GROUP
You don’t need to be a job search professional to start a group, just someone willing to help others and seek help for yourself. The idea of giving to others before seeking for yourself is always a better way to start.
Probably the easiest way to start a group is create a MeetUp.com group, set up the virtual meeting and begin marketing it through a variety of channels. If you prefer an in-person group, the process is the same, but you need to find a meeting spot. I know of some groups that meet in libraries and others that meet at the local coffee shop. The location is your choice, but the more “private” spaces often lead to better conversation and sharing.
It is always best to personally invite people you know to participate. They are more likely to attend and be more committed than others. Find a local career coach who may be willing to co-facilitate and, more importantly, recommend the group to their clients.
I have found that connecting with affinity groups that already have a following make recruiting members easier. For example, ask you college or high school alumni association if they have such a group. If not, then ask to start one with you leading it. If a group of you are being laid off from the same company, band together to form a group. If you need help or some guidance, I will gladly offer my expertise.
I know the resources I listed are not all-encompassing. So, if you have other ideas, please add them in the comments section. One aspect of the career coaching industry I love most is everyone’s willingness to help each other. Many minds are smarter than one! Also, let me know what you liked about these articles. Let this start the conversation!
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 email@example.com . Follow him at: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cecala-career-consultants.