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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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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Millennials, Here’s Why Job Titles Don’t Matter Anymore

I can’t tell you how many times my Dad used to ask me about what exactly it was again that I was doing for a living.

Coming from the “black and white” world of accounting on Wall Street, he wasn’t satisfied with my answer that didn’t fit neatly into a box like lawyer, doctor, or teacher. As the founder of an online community, I was proud of my work and wanted badly to convey to my Dad what I was up to—but he always seemed to respond with a blank stare followed by defeated resignation.

 

 

What I’m finding is that I’m not the only one having this problem. In fact, the majority of the millennials I talk to today are opting for work that’s not clearly defined.

The millennial worker today wears many hats—whether that’s copywriter, marketer, sales strategist, or bookkeeper. We’re adaptive to the shifting demands of a fast-paced work environment and the skills we need to learn are often just a Google search away.

This week on the Unconventional Life Podcast, I interviewed one millennial woman who’s on the leading edge of nontraditional work and thriving.

Meet Tash Price, the business developer and manager of Engine House VFX, an award-winning UK-based 2-D, 3-D, CGI and VFX animation studio who has served clientele like BBC and Sony. Engine House VFX covers a wide range of projects within advertising, gaming, architectural visualization and film. Their work has been featured online, on TV, at events, and in films and games.

“You’ll get into the conversation of what you do for a living and you’ll say animation and people can’t quite seem to grasp it. They’ll quickly move on and they seem confused by it because it’s not the standard job role,” Price says.

But according to Price, the conversation doesn’t have to stop there. Rather than moving on, you can educate others about what you do in a way that promotes connection and redefines what it means to work in the 21st century.

I spoke with a number of other millennials who are finding fulfillment in nontraditional job roles, and here’s what they had to say:

  • Job Titles Don’t Reflect Lifestyle. In the past, jobs were much less integrated than they are today. Going to work meant punching in a time card at on office for a designated number of hours. Today, technology enables millennials to work seamlessly from their devices so that being “on” and “off” the clock is less rigid and more fused with lifestyle.
  • • Eric Termuende, an entrepreneur, speaker, and the author of Rethink Work, says, “With the capabilities of technology increasing so quickly, the ability to work from more places, using more devices, longer hours every day makes the job less about the seemingly limited title, and more about the holistic experience. In many cases, the title doesn’t encompass the life Millennials are living as a result of the job (or jobs) they are doing.”

Price’s animation studio is embodying this new “integrated” work model. ”Instead of having hundreds of people sitting behind a cubicle we have a small core team and we work with lots of freelancers who are based all over the world. It means everyone gets the lifestyle they want and we can hand-pick the artists we want for the job. We’ve got people working in Turkey, Sweden, Iran, the US, the Netherlands, Japan,” she says.

  • Job Titles Act As Constraints. Today’s millennial workers may have bigger ambitions than previous generations. Just a few decades ago, only a marginal percent of American workers held a college degree, and the majority of women preferred to stay at home.

As millennials tackle a host of global issues, both men and women are rising to the occasion with a shift towards businesses that do social justice. 92% of millennials believe businesses should be measured by more than profit. Undra Robinson, a millennial entrepreneur, says “Millennials believe our potential in life is limitless and want to change the world, and job titles only add constraints. They are polar opposites.”

Millennials Aren’t Motivated By Job Titles.

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How to Turn Interviews Into Job Offers

You’ve worked hard to craft a resume that highlights your value to a potential employer. Now, the phone is ringing and the interviews are starting to pour in. You are excited and anxious as you chat with hiring managers over the phone and face-to-face.

But for some reason, you can’t seem to land the offer. You become frustrated and unable to understand what went wrong when you feel the interviews went well.

As a seasoned human resources manager, expert resume writer and career coach, I understand exactly what you are experiencing. I’ve helped several professionals across different industries who have had the same frustration in their job search.

While a great resume is good, it can only get you an interview. Performing well at a job interview is the key to getting the offer.

 

Below are some of the steps you can take to ensure success at your next job interview:

1. Print extra copies of your resume and plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Most importantly, be respectful to everyone you encounter at the location of your interview — you never know the relationship between who you encounter and the hiring manager.

2. Make sure that you are dressed appropriately for the interview. Ask the recruiter what the dress code is, and whatever you do, don’t go overboard with your outfit, accessories or makeup.

3. Take a deep breath and

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4 soul-crushing moments every job searcher experiences

Looking for a new job is no easy task.

The process is fraught with sterile rejection emails, awkward interview experiences, and tricky conversations. Sometimes you may even go months without getting a single interview. At some point during your search, you might hit a road block that is so devastating, you begin to question whether or not you should even keep looking. The good news is that if you can understand why something went wrong and adjust your approach, you can overcome any obstacle.

Let’s take a closer look at four common, soul-crushing setbacks, including why they happen and how you can move forward.

 

  1. NOT HEARING ANYTHING BACK

What it Looks Like

You’ve been scouring job boards and applying to every relevant opportunity in sight, but the only responses you’ve gotten are generic rejection emails. Sure, you understand that it can take time to find the right position, but after a month or two of total silence, you start to lose hope. You know you have great experience, so what gives?

Why it Happens

There are tons of reasons why you may not be hearing back, but your resume is the most likely culprit. First, consider that it’s probably going to have to make it past an applicant tracking system. These systems scan every application for keywords that are specific to the role you’ve applied for. If you didn’t take the time to customize your resume for a particular job, you may be getting rejected before an actual person ever has a chance to lay eyes on your materials.

Another potential resume issue? Content. Recruiters only spend a few seconds scanning a resume before deciding whether or not they’re interested in a particular candidate, so you don’t have much time to grab their attention. Resumes that feature engaging language, relevant content, key achievements, and quantifiable metrics are much more likely to catch a hiring manager’s eye.

The timeliness of your application, the methods you’re using, and types of roles you’re applying to are all important factors to consider. Are you applying for jobs that were posted over a month ago? Chances are, the organization is probably pretty close to hiring someone by now. Are you only using one or two strategies in your search? If you aren’t having any success, it may be time to try out a few different resources. Finally, are you applying to roles that are a strong match for your skills and work history? If you’re a sales representative with two years of experience in the retail industry and you’re applying for sales director opportunities in the tech space, you may not be setting yourself up for success.

What to Do About It

Customizing your resume for each and every role you apply to isn’t as hard as it sounds. Try asking yourself two simple questions as you read through the job description for each role you’d like to apply to:

  • Do I have experience doing this type of work?
  • Is this experience currently on my resume?

If you answer yes to the first question and no to the second, it’s time to update your resume.

Diversifying your resources is also crucial to success. Don’t rely solely on job boards: Leverage your network, identify the top 10 companies you’d like to work for and reach out to recruiters who work there, attend relevant industry events, or consider working with a recruiting agency. There tons of different ways to find new opportunities—don’t limit yourself to just one.

If what you’re doing isn’t working, take a step back and reevaluate your game plan. Making adjustments to your approach can mean the difference between an empty inbox and a calendar full of interviews.

 

  1. BOMBING AN INTERVIEW

What it looks like

Interviews are stressful, and, sometimes, things just don’t go your way. Maybe you showed up late, forgot the hiring manager’s name, got stumped on a question, or accidentally let it slip that you can’t stand your current manager. Regardless of the severity of your interview faux pas, you walk away feeling pretty confident that you’re not going to get the job.

Why it happens

Everyone slips up from time to time. When it comes to the interview, there are three fundamental things that can go wrong:

External Factors: These are things beyond your control, like your car breaking down, your bus never showing up, waking up with a terrible cold, or a loved one landing in the hospital. Obviously, the severity of these events range from inconvenient to traumatic, but they all have the potential to throw you off your game.

Lack of Preparation: These are things that are firmly in your control, like getting enough sleep the night before, researching the company, practicing your answers to somecommonly asked interview questions, and brainstorming engaging questions to ask during your meeting. Taking the time to adequately prepare yourself in advance is an essential factor in interview success.

Fate: Sometimes, things just weren’t meant to be. If you weren’t at your best because you were dealing with a rude interviewer, didn’t click with the hiring team, or simply didn’t feel comfortable, you probably don’t want that job, anyway. Don’t forget that the purpose of this entire process is for you and your potential employer to assess whether or not you are a fit for each other.

 

What to do about it

Don’t lose sight of the fact that this happens to everyone. When you find yourself in this position, you have two options: Learn from your mistakes and move forward, or try to salvage your candidacy. If you feel strongly that you really are the right person for the job, you may be able to turn things around by showing that you recognize that you could have done better and then demonstrating your ability to do so. Try sending the hiring manager a message to thank him for his time and work in a few lines about your misstep. Here are a few examples:

If don’t feel great about how you answered a question, say: “I’ve been thinking about my answer to your question about how I would grow community engagement and I wanted to share some additional thoughts with you.”

If you didn’t have any questions prepared, say: “I rarely find myself at a loss for words, but in my excitement, I neglected to ask you a few key questions about this opportunity.”

If you think you overshared, say: “I wanted to clarify my comments about my current role.”

If you were late, say: “I take being on time very seriously, and want to apologize for the any inconvenience my late arrival caused this morning.”

There is no guarantee that this approach will work, but most managers value employees who are willing to admit and learn from their mistakes, so at a minimum, they’ll most likely respect you more for owning up to whatever went wrong.

 

  1. THINKING YOU GOT THE JOB AND THEN GETTING REJECTED

CONTINUE

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