How To Create A Job Search Support Group

 

Even in a hot job market like the one we’re in, looking for work can be a challenge. For people over 50, who often face age discrimination and longer than average search times, the hunt can be especially fraught — a recent Pro Publica/New York Times investigation revealed that Facebook isn’t showing some job-post ads to older job seekers due to their age.

 

Sadly, there are no quick fixes to ageism or the vagaries of the job search. But one way to make the make the process of finding work easier and more efficient is by creating or joining a job search support group.

 

How Job Search Support Groups Work

 

Job support groups, also known as job networking groups, come in many varieties: Some are online, others are local and in-person; a few combine the two. In certain cases, they’re initiatives facilitated by nonprofits and private membership groups like ExecuNet.com, that include networking groups as part of their offerings.

 

 

But whatever their format, job support groups offer many benefits including:

 

Opportunities to network, share leads and learn about jobs from other job hunters like you

A safe zone where participants can vent and swap war stories

Workshops taught by experts on topics related to transitions and job search success

 

A job support group “brings together people with similar interests, needs, challenges and goals in a group format, and that creates a ‘communal approach’ to the process,” says Susan Drevitch Kelly, a Boston-area career coach and director of the free 50+ Job Seekers Regional Networking Groups (an initiative for Massachusetts residents supported by the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging).

 

Kelly launched the groups in 2016 because she saw a need to help older job seekers combat ageism and improve their employability. All sessions are facilitated by career coaches and include guest speakers on job-search topics from developing an elevator speech to leveraging social media. In program evaluations, participants said that the groups helped them better understand their value, gain confidence and learn how to master today’s digital networking job search process. “The program gave me hope that I really can find a job despite my age,” wrote one job seeker.

 

Finding a Job Search Support Group

 

To find a group like this one locally, inquire at your local library, colleges or state unemployment office. Many houses of worship sponsor job search support groups as well. Online, you can find groups through listings on Meetup.com or by doing a Google search. Be sure to also ask friends and colleagues for recommendations of suitable groups, too.

 

But if you don’t find a group that meets your needs, you might consider starting your own, which could provide a boost to your psyche and job search. Kelly says forming a job search support group isn’t as hard as it sounds.

 

7 Tips to Start a Job Search Support Group

 

Here are seven steps to do it:

 

  1. Ask people you know who are looking for work to join your group. Approach friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, gym buddies and others. You could form a general job search support group or a group focused on a specific population, industry or location (such as New York City professionals earning six figures or women in finance or executives over 50). Try to get at least five people to participate in your initial group.

 

  1. Agree on the group’s mission and purpose. Identify specific topics members want to cover such as self-assessment, overcoming ageism, resumé development and using LinkedIn. Be flexible, and touch base with others in the group often to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met.

 

Insist that all meetings are confidential and conducted in a productive businesslike way. Promote what Kelly calls the G2G Rule: Give to get! Networking is always most effective when you give and support others, before you ask for anything in return.

 

  1. Decide when, and how often, the group will meet. Consistency in the meeting day, time and place is essential to a group’s success. Many groups meet weekly, Kelly’s groups get together biweekly. Sessions generally last two to three hours, with time allocated for networking, guest speakers and progress reports.

 

  1. Choose a group facilitator: Every group needs someone to keep the direction, momentum and commitment going. Sometimes a member or two will step forward and volunteer to be co-facilitators. Alternatively, you might suggest a rotational assignment. Either way, there should always be someone in charge so the schedule, topics and deliverables are communicated to everyone.

 

  1. Find a meeting place. If the group is small (under six to eight people), you can probably meet at a café or coffee shop during a quiet time of day. Or you might opt to meet in a member’s home, if participants feel comfortable with that.

 

But once the group expands, you’ll need to find a more appropriate venue. Ask your local houses of worship, library, town hall school or community center if they’d be willing to host your group. Many will do so at no charge or for a nominal fee. If needed, you can always charge a small amount to cover the cost of rentals or refreshments.

 

  1. Identify guest speakers. Reach out to local career coaches, recruiters and HR professionals who’d be willing to speak for no charge on one of the topics identified by the group. To find them, ask colleagues for recommendations and check the online directories of the National Career Development Association or Career Thought Leaders —industry associations for career coaches, recruiters and others in the careers world.

 

  1. Continually promote the group. As members of the group find jobs, there will be others who still need support and community. So, over time, promote the program through LinkedIn, local news coverage or word of mouth. That way, there will always be new people joining when others leave.

 

  1. Recruiters ask you “Are you sure you don’t want to focus on higher-level jobs?” and your answer is “No, those jobs take too long to fill. I want to start working right away.”

 

  1. You can feel the awkward energy in the room or on the phone as the interviewer realizes you know way more about the topic than they do.

 

  1. Late at night your trusty gut tells you “This isn’t working — you need to take your job search up a notch!”

 

It can be easier to land a higher-level job than a lower-level job, because the executives who manage higher-level employees are thinking about different and higher-altitude topics than managers of folks with less experience.

 

You can start a meatier conversation with a VP than you can with a first-level supervisor, all other things being equal.

 

Your job is to lift your job search sights to focus on the roles that will make the most of your talents, and leave the artificially-depressed job search path behind you.

 

Step into your power. When you feel it, everyone around you will feel it too!

 

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Ten Signs You’re Shooting Too Low In Your Job Search

 

Dear Liz,

 

I’ve been job-hunting since October. Maybe I was naive thinking my job search would be quick and easy. I’ve been in the insurance industry for over twenty years.

 

I’ve been an agent, an office manager and held almost every insurance job there is.

 

I’ve only had one in-person job interview so far. I’ve applied for numerous jobs but in the other cases I either got a phone interview or no interview.

 

They keep telling me I’m overqualified for the jobs I’m applying for. If I’m overqualified doesn’t that make me the perfect candidate, because I can obviously do the job?

 

I thought if I took my target position down a level or two from the last few jobs I’ve held, I would get hired much faster. I’m applying for jobs I performed fifteen years ago and I thought that would do the trick but it’s not working.

Recommended by Forbes

 

I’m sick of job hunting. I would accept anything. I still have my savings and retirement accounts because I’ve been living frugally since October, but I’m tired of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible. What am I doing wrong?

 

 

Dear Harlan,

 

It sounds like you’re shooting too low in your job search, and that is almost always a show-stopper. Employers don’t want to hire people who could perform the job with one hand tied behind their back.

 

Here are some of the reasons why not:

 

  1. They are afraid you’ll quit for a better job the minute you have the opportunity to do so.

 

  1. They are afraid that even if you say “I’ll take this job, a lower-level role that pays less than I’ve earned since 2004 — no problem!” you won’t be happy. You’ll be antsy. They don’t need that.

 

  1. They want to hire someone they can train their own way.

 

  1. They get spooked by any candidate who seems to know more about the field than they do.

 

There could be an age-discrimination aspect depending on your age, but the key is that you are shooting too low and recruiters can tell that you’re doing so. They don’t want to hire somebody for whom this job is not a natural step along your career path.

 

How can we blame them for that? It’s fear that is making you shoot low in your job search and even though everyone can relate to that fear, the remedy for the fear is not to take any job you can get but to stop and think about what you do best and what you really want to do.

 

You have to do some reflection to figure out where your sweet spot lies — at the intersection of the things you do well, the things you love to do and the needs in the talent marketplace.

 

Your fearful mindset (“I still have my savings, but I’m sick of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible!”) is killing your job search.

 

People can read energy very well.

 

Fearful energy is not appealing in a senior-level candidate or any candidate. Your need to get hired fast is what’s artificially depressing your job-search altitude and keeping you from having the conversations you should be having with hiring managers in pain.

 

You have breathing room. You have your savings and retirement accounts. Take time to stop and figure out your next step. Give up the idea of getting any job at all. Employers want to hire somebody who is dying to do the job they’re hiring for — not somebody who’s merely willing to do the job because it represents a break from job-hunting.

 

Here are ten signs you’re shooting too low in your job search:

 

  1. Recruiters view your LinkedIn profile and say “Wow! You have lot of heavy-duty experience. Are you sure you’re interested in this much lower-level job?” They are skeptical. Do you think your hiring manager will be any less skeptical? Don’t use your precious mojo trying to talk anybody into interviewing you!

 

  1. When you show up for an interview or get on a call for a phone interview, the interviewer’s voice indicates surprise or puzzlement. They can’t match the person on the phone (you) with the job opening they’re ready to interview you for.

 

  1. Whenever you get a “no thanks” notice, it gushes about your vast experience and skills and closes with “….but we need someone with a background closer to the job spec.”

 

  1. Recruiters always express surprise that you’re willing to work for the salary number you give them. The gap between your expected salary target and your actual salary target is almost always a red flag for recruiters — whether you are asking for more or less money than the position pays.

 

  1. When you tell recruiters you’d be more than delighted to take a step down in your career they sound less than excited to hear it. Naturally they wonder “Why can’t this candidate get a job at their level?”

 

  1. On your job interviews, you answer every question with a precise, expert opinion on the spot. The interviewer is taken aback — maybe even intimidated. Most companies don’t hire people who intimidate their interviewers.

 

  1. You’ve heard at least one hiring manager say “Heck,you could do my job!” and they’re right.

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Are You Job Search Ready?

 

When was the last time you were in a full-on job search? Tw0? Five? Fifteen years ago?

 

While the saying is true that you never forget how to ride a bike, unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the job search. Unlike riding a bike, which hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years, the job search process has changed drastically.

 

So, if it’s been a while since your last career transition, now is a perfect time to catch up with the latest:

 

Social media has taken center stage, yet applying online has one of the lowest return on investments as compared to strategies like networking.

Well-crafted resumes and cover letters continue to be a necessity, but are no longer simple historical accounts of your career based on past job descriptions.

Competition has expanded beyond traditional candidates to a new group of career switchers who are vying (successfully!) for roles they don’t have deep experience in.

 

It’s confusing, and in a market where there’s more opportunity than ever, a lack of savvy job search skills keeps well-qualified professionals stuck in unsatisfying careers, contributing to why 70% of Americans are disengaged at work (Gallup, 2017).

 

Whether you’re looking to move to a similar role in a different company or industry, or if 2018 is your year to make a complete switch to a new function, review this 15-item checklist to learn if you are job search ready:

 

Job Target/Audience

 

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Ten Quick Resume Tweaks That Will Improve Your Executive Job Search

When I’m working with my six- and seven-figure executive clients, I often notice certain resume hiccups that detract from their main message of value when communicating with hiring authorities. By making some easy and subtle yet powerful changes, executive search candidates can frequently accelerate their interactions with decision makers and expedite their searches.

 

Here are my top 10 suggestions.

 

  1. Fix that email address. Nothing will date you faster than an email address that is associated with a company that peaked before the 21st century. Rather than using your prehistoric AOL or Yahoo address, create a Gmail account for your job search activities. Consider it part of the normal technology evolution process. You parted with your rotary phone, fax machine and Blackberry. You can let go of this, too.

 

  1. List your cell phone rather than your home phone. This is another dinosaur. Even if you still have a home phone, isn’t your cell phone the best way to reach you? You want to be available to recruiters and hiring managers quickly; it makes sense to give them the fastest way to contact you.

 

  1. Eliminate subjective words and descriptions of personal attributes from your resume summary. These words do little to position your value to an employer. Nix words like “seasoned” or “veteran” (translation: old), “high energy” (translation: you sound insecure) and “accomplished” (you’d better be; you’re a senior executive). Replace these with a synopsis of career highlights where you helped the companies you supported make money, save money, save time, grow the business or keep the business. Showcase tangible skills (e.g., turned around three companies, led 12 acquisitions, took $6 million of expenses out of the business, etc.) to validate your worth to an employer.

 

  1. Step out of the 90s and update your resume format.

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Five Job Search Moves That Make You Look Like An Amateur

 

Dear Liz,

 

I’m job-hunting. I have a few job possibilities I’m pursuing, but I’m only excited about one of them.

 

The best job opportunity I’ve found is with a company located about ten minutes from my house. It’s not only close to my house but the job is perfect for my background, too.

 

When I first talked to the recruiter on the phone she asked me what I was earning. I wasn’t working then so I said “I’m not working now but I’m looking for a job that pays at least $55,000.”

 

The recruiter said “Okay. I can work with that.”

 

When I interviewed with the employer (Company X) they asked me again “How much are you looking to earn?” I said “At least $55,000” and they said “Fine.”

 

Now I’ve met the hiring manager and several other employees. I have a much better feeling for the job. The recruiter called me last Friday and said “Okay, Company X is putting an offer together for you.

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3 Things You Can’t Control In Your Job Search (And 3 Things You Can!)

 

Several years ago, I interviewed for a job that I really, really wanted: It seemed like the perfect role at a dream organization. I worked hard to prepare for the interview, and though I was nervous on the big day, I felt ready.

 

I was at ease with the interviewers (a team of five!), and felt we developed a strong rapport. I left the office sure I’d made a good impression—only to find out a few days later that they hired someone else.

 

I was devastated and disappointed. But their rejection email emphasized it wasn’t that I was a bad fit, but rather that there was someone who was a better fit.

 

This was a critical lesson for me. When looking for a new position, you want to believe that it’ll be like buying a new computer or booking a trip. In other words, you’ll research all of the options, pick the best and it’ll be yours. The hard reality, however, is that there is so much outside of your control in a job search from what openings are out there, to who else is in the running, to whether your interviewer is having a bad day.

 

So, a much better way to spend your time and energy is to focus on the parts that are within your control. In these areas, greater effort will mean more payoff.

And, for everything outside of your control?

Admitting they’re out of your hands will keep you from taking a loss too personally.

Here’s a guide to what’s what:

 

  1. You Can’t Control Who’s Hiring

Sometimes, the exact position you’re looking for will open up at just the right time; and other times you feel like you’ve been refreshing job boards and checking back in with your contacts again (and again, and again) before you see anything that’s a good fit. Unfortunately, you can’t will a role into being available.

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Ten Rules Job Seekers Are Allowed To Break Now

The working world is changing dramatically around us.

 

The job-search world has changed, too.

You can’t be a complacent job seeker these days. You have to be proactive. You can’t follow the old rules:

 

  1. Apply for jobs online, then wait.

 

  1. If you don’t hear anything, apply for more jobs online.

 

  1. Wait as long as it takes for you to hear back, and one day you’ll get a job.

 

Forget that nonsense! You have to break out of that mold to get a good job these days.

 

You might think it’s too risky to break the old, traditional job-search rules. If you don’t break a few rules, you could wait forever to get your new job!

 

For years, department managers have gone around and outside their organizations’ formal recruiting processes to fill their job openings.

 

They use their networks and their employees’ networks as recruiting sources. They meet people at industry events and keep in touch with them, and hire them down the road.

 

You can tap into the same informal networks to get your next job. You can break the old rules and step into your power!

Recommended by Forbes

 

Here are ten rules job-seekers are allowed to break now:

 

  1. The rule that says your resume must be dusty and formulaic.

 

Don’t use meaningless, robotic language like “Results-oriented professional” in your resume. Tell your human-story in your own words, instead!

 

  1. The rule that says you can’t use the word “I” in your resume.

 

You can use “I” in your resume — it’s your principal branding document! You can use “I” in your LinkedIn profile, too.

 

  1. The rule that says the only way to apply for a job is through the company’s online job application portal.

 

Black Hole recruiting portals are the worst job-search channel there is. Use your network, or reach out to hiring managers directly.

 

  1. The rule that says you can’t reach out to your hiring manager directly.

 

Yes you can!

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3 major red flags when it comes to taking a job offer

Don’t overlook these reasons to walk away.

Sometimes the excitement over landing a potential new job causes you to overlook some major red flags. In many cases, the problems aren’t hidden, but we’re willing to overlook them because we want a change, the money is better, or the new situation is a much-wanted promotion.

It’s important, however, no matter how excited you are, to listen to that little voice in the back of your head. Even if you want to charge ahead and ignore any potential problems, step back and really examine the situation. You may still decide to take the job, but you’ll go into it with less wide-eyed innocence.

Of course, you don’t have to take a job just because it’s offered. You can walk away even if it’s painful because of what you will be giving up.

Here are some helpful tips from three of our Foolish contributors.

 

You’re not feeling good about it

Selena MaranjianIf you’re offered ajob doing the kind of work you’d like to do for a salary that seems good or great, you might still want to turn it down — if you just don’t feel too good about it.

For example, when interviewing at the job site, you might have been put off by the company culture. Perhaps it seemed too silly, with cutesy signs adorning the halls. Or maybe it seemed too unfriendly, with lots of reminders to workers to follow various rules. It’s good to look closely at a potential workplace, noting, for example, how happy or unhappy the employees seem to be.

We’re in the connected internet age now, so take advantage of that. You can look up reviews of your employer at sites such as Glassdoor.com.

Here are some comments for one company that give you an idea of the kinds of insights you can glean:

•”Management doesn’t really care about the employees or what’s going on. … It’s simply horrid.”

•”No opportunity for advancement. None whatsoever. You won’t get a raise. some of my coworkers have worked for over 8 years without a change in compensation.”

Read many reviews of any company of interest, to get an overall sense of employee attitudes. Don’t be swayed by just one bad review. It’s also good to do some networking, trying to find friends or friends of friends who work at companies of interest to get their perspectives.

Finally, give some thought to the company’s health. Is it doing well? If it’s a public company, you can check out its financial statements to see if its top and bottom lines are growing. Look it up in the news, too. If you find articles wondering how it’s going survive amajor challenge or new competitor, those can be worrisome signs.

Mixed messages about the role

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The new year is on top of us.

You have a decision to make: are you going to keep your job for another year, or strike out for greener pastures in 2018?

 

Now is the perfect time to ask, “Does my job still deserve me?”

Keep in mind that our tendency as human beings is to stick with the tried-and-true and avoid the unfamiliar. Changing jobs is a pain in the neck. It’s easier to stick with the job you already have than to job-hunt, whether your current job is the right job for you or not.

It’s easy to go to sleep on your career, and forget that if you’re not moving ahead you are slipping backwards. It’s easy to start thinking that work is just a place to pick up a paycheck.

Your work is your art. You deserve to work for people who appreciate that fact — and appreciate the spark and brilliance you bring to everything you do.

You have talents you should be recognized and compensated for.

You have dreams and aspirations that only you can bring about. If your current job, your current boss or your current income level are keeping you from realizing your dreams, why stay stuck in place for another year?

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