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Career Support Group Can Aid Job Search

Job-search clubs and career support groups have been around for a long time. But with so many mid-career professionals out on the street, the topic is timelier than ever.

New York career coach Win Sheffield offers the following blueprint of how a self-organized career support group should work. The idea is to give job-seekers and career changers the opportunity to regularly discuss their trials, tribulations and (hopefully) triumphs with others whose background and experience are different.

Composition

The group should consist of no more than five members, representing different industries but similar levels. "Members at similar levels with diverse backgrounds bring diverse strengths to the group," Sheffield says. Members will be at different stages in their search, which magnifies the group's value as well.

Schedule

Meet for an hour each week to review accomplishments, priorities, and goals. Begin with a commitment to keep meeting for a set interval, such as three months. The commitment can be renewed when the period ends, or adjusted as members land jobs.

Format

Each member speaks in turn, reviewing progress since the previous meeting, asking the group's help on some matter such how to best follow up with a new contact or refine an elevator pitch, and stating short-term goals to be accomplished by the next meeting. In addition, Sheffield recommends setting "boundaries for raising emotional issues that are comfortable for all group members."

Logistics

Meet somewhere quiet enough to minimize distraction and allow note-taking. Limit any refreshments to coffee or tea, since a full meal can be distracting.

Structure

An outside leader isn't necessary. A group member can act as facilitator, keeping time and making sure everyone gets a chance to speak. The facilitator's role can rotate with each meeting. State up front how long each participant will be allowed to speak. The facilitator can give a 1-minute warning.

Confidentiality

There should be explicit agreement that members will keep confidential everything said in the group.

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AUTHORJon Jacobs Insider Comment
  • Jo
    Jon Jacobs
    8 April 2009

    Networking contacts have this in common with money: The more you have already, the easier it is to make still more. So there may be a bit of a paradox here - you may need to join another group to find people to join with you in a self-run career support group. Try one of the nationwide group coaching organizations, such as your local chapter of Forty-Plus, or the Five O'Clock Club, or perhaps Toastmasters. --Jon Jacobs, eFinancialCareers News staff

  • Mi
    Michael
    8 April 2009

    Where does one find 4-5 people who are in totally different sectors or industry, yet at the same executive level? In Linked-in?

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