I am sometimes challenged with job seekers that tell me that they are actively working their job search and when we review their calendar I quickly realize that job clubs are their principle means of job search. Sadly, this is a misuse of a beneficial resource.
Last year, I heard a keynote speaker who turns out to be one of the first to utilize the concept of Job Clubs in the USA. Joy Maguire-Dooley is a social worker, author, career transition and networking guru. I also consider Joy to be a friend. The joke between us is that Joy knows everyone; if you need a contact somewhere, Joy has a name and phone number to share with you. There is a saying that goes something like, "With Joy in your life; you'll land a job." Anyway, if Joy didn't invent the concept a job club, she was one of the very first to employ its practice. Joy teaches that a job search requires a WOW factor... this is something that takes practice to develop!
Activity vs. Accomplishment
It's my belief that many in job transition have received the wrong idea about job clubs and networking. I'll hear folks say that they were networking yesterday and when I dig a little deeper I learn that they went to a job club, A.K.A. networking session. What did they come back with? Hand bills and business cards from the seven others around their table. This is activity without accomplishment, no WOW here. Real networking should be moving the job seeker closer to the goal; in this case getting a job offer. If you come back with only seven hand bills you're not really moving toward an interview and a job offer. Job clubs are the first place to network, not the only place!
Job Clubs are the Practice Arena At the beginning of your job search attending one, two or even three job club meetings a week is a great opportunity to practice your networking skills and your job search tools, not to mention your WOW. A job club is a safe and hopefully mutually beneficial environment. Practice your elevator pitch, your success stories, how to listen effectively, how to ask for business cards, how to join a conversation and how to end a conversation and move on to the next person. After you've gotten these tools and skills down, going to more than two job club meetings a week is a misuse of your time. Use that time to meet with those contacts who have paying jobs and are working at companies on your target company list. Use that time to meet with people you've just been introduced to. Use that time to build up new relationships and utilize the skills you've practiced. Use that time to put the WOW into your job search.
Joy Maguire-Dooley, Teri Clancy and Sally Morrison are the founders of CareerPartners3 and the authors of, A Taste for Work... Your Menu for Career Success. Joy Maguire-Dooley is also the facilitator of the Lisle Township Job Club Link and is the host of Job Talk Radio Link on WJJG 1530AM.