Our job support group meets once a week at the McHenry County Workforce office. It’s a nicely rounded group of about 9 individuals in various stages of job transition and hunting. Due to the sensitive nature of our discussions, I cannot be too specific here.
Big news this week – 2 people got jobs! They actually carpooled and went to the job fair together. They told us about their interview experience, some of the questions asked, etc. For one woman, this is a perfect fit with her background, and quite honestly she might not have gone to the interview without the support of her job group buddy. For the second woman, it is a good-paying job to pay the bills while she continues to study for her certification exam in her field of choice. The company is hiring several people on a temporary basis now, and will keep a majority of them on after the first of the year. I have no doubt that my friends will make the cut!
The difference between a job club and a job support group is just that – we try to support each other in many ways beyond just job leads. Our moderator, a local workforce employee, takes time to go around the group and ask each person to “gauge” their feelings on a 1 to 10 scale. It’s a good week – all but 2 are 7 or better out of 10. As each person relates their activities for the week, we can offer helpful advice on many subjects, from how to deal with nosy in-laws, to phrasing thank you notes to employers, where to get help for basic needs, whatever we feel we can contribute.
One gentleman and I discussed his need to improve his computer skills. We went over how he can find a job opportunity on LinkedIn when the “apply here” link doesn’t appear to work, or seems daunting when switched to a site to fill out an application. This is a significant move for him, as he can now come to his fellow job group members instead of his children for help – and we don’t degrade him for needing help as his family might (he’s discovered that teenagers are not too patient!).
He had seen several positions he was interested in, but didn’t understand how to set up his profile on a company career site and apply for the job. Now he does. We’re all waiting for next week’s meeting to see how it went for him.
Our help to each other goes beyond the typical job hunting modes. We work on goal-setting and accountability, in our lives as well as through a job hunt. We’ve even helped each other with basic needs such as a mouthguard needed for a child, clothing, food coupons, rides to meetings and interviews, etc. We’re a resourceful group. And, even though we come from different backgrounds and have different needs, we seem to be able to support each other so that we leave each week recharged and ready to tackle the job market once again.
You might consider starting a local support group such as this if your local unemployment services do not offer it. Every office offers different services tailored to its personnel’s abilities and needs in the surrounding area. You won’t know until you ask. You can also search for an “accountability buddy” within any local networking groups or job groups and meet separately for this purpose. It just seems to be easier to do this with someone in the same situation as you, rather than talking to friends or relatives. And, it’s easier on your family as well.
You may just improve your approach to the job market using someone else’s eyes.