These days, everyone has probably been laid off at least once. In fact, being between jobs is almost a normal state of affairs. If you’re in that boat, and since misery loves company, why not find a group of them and pool your resources? Forming a job club will help your own career development in a number of ways.
- By organizing a group, you become proactive and take control of your own career.
- By setting a regular time and place to meet, you add structure and rigor to your job search.
- By connecting with fellow professionals, you increase the number of people looking for opportunities that match your interests.
- By helping others find jobs that match their interests, you increase your professional network.
- By forcing yourself to articulate your goals, you clarify them.
- By committing to your goals publicly, you are more likely to fulfill them.
- By creating accountability and deadlines, you motivate yourself to continue to move forward.
If you were part of a large layoff, you have a ready-made group. You can start a group informally – contact a few people and suggest meeting for coffee or at a local bookstore. To keep expenses down, meet at places where food can be dutch treat, or find a free room at a local college or business after hours.
Set a specific agenda – otherwise you run the risk of it turning into a whining session. Have members take turns providing the program, or bring in outside speakers. Use videos, discussion guides, and other publications from ACS Career Resources as conversation starters. Many local human resources professionals will be happy to come provide information and advice, as long as they’re not asked to provide jobs.
As part of the agenda, allow members time to share their progress since the last meeting, current goals, and to receive feedback from other members.
Set some ground rules, such as constructive criticism only, respecting each other’s confidentiality requests, honesty, and a time limit on whining/complaining.
Communicate between meetings through an email list, ACS Network group, Facebook group, or other means. Encourage posting of openings, tips, etc. to build relationships and keep the momentum going between meetings.
The biggest advantage of job clubs is that as you form connections, you all start looking out for each other. You pass along leads of companies that are hiring, new professional areas that might match someone’s background, and so on. You are not competing with each other, but are each trying to find the specific position that matches your knowledge, skills, abilities and values. As neutral third parties, others in the job club can sometimes point out both opportunities and flaws that you might not have seen yourself.
By working together and pooling your resources, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Through support, encouragement and looking out for each other, you can all accomplish your career goals – together.
For more tips on starting a job club, see the ACS Starting a Job Club Checklist.
This article was written by Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants. Lisa is a scientific communication consultant and author of: “Nontraditional Careers for Chemists,” published by Oxford University Press (2007).