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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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 pay for school when you make a career change

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A bad day at work can make anyone dream about switching jobs. But if those scattered thoughts form into a plan to change careers, you might need to dust off your book bag and head back to school.

 

Hitting the books in your 30s, 40s or 50s requires money at an age when retirement savings and mortgage payments may be top of mind. You can get financial aid as an adult learner, but to keep your spending in check, you’ll have to think strategically.

 

Make sure your investment is worth it

 

Before you jump back into caffeine-fueled study sessions, research salary and employment trends in your chosen field — especially if you want to make more money. That’s a realistic goal: Half of adults surveyed who successfully changed careers after age 45 said their income increased, according to a 2015 American Institute for Economic Research report.

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you find in-demand occupations and their average earnings. Physical therapist assistants, for instance, need an associate’s degree, and demand for them is projected to grow 41% by 2024. The median pay in 2015 was $55,170.

 

Once you’ve settled on an occupation, consider getting your credentials through a part-time program at a community college or state university.

 

“If the program you’re in makes it impossible to keep your current job full time,

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5 Things You’re Doing Right (But Could Be Doing Better) In Your Job Search

 

The bad news: You’re probably doing a lot of things wrong in your job search.

 

The good news: You’re also likely doing several things right.

 

The bad news: Some of those things you’re doing right? You could actually be doing them much better.

 

The good news: We’re about to show you how.

 

  1. Sleuthing Out Contacts Within a Company, but Being Too Forward With the Approach

 

I like the go-getter in you. You’re not going to just sit there and blindly apply for advertised positions online. No, sir. You’re going to find and endear yourself to people on the inside of companies of interest, to give yourself a leg up on the competition. All good. But not so good if you’re charging at strangers via LinkedIn LNKD -0.71% or other channels like some kind of crazed bull. That’s not networking; that’s ambushing. And no one likes to feel ambushed.

 

Do it Better

 

Approach people in a way that you’d want to be approached by a stranger. I’m guessing that you’d be more than willing to chat with or help someone if he or she contacted you in a friendly, flattering, or helpful way before asking for anything from you, right? Be that stranger. Built rapport first before you ask for any big favors.

 

  1. Updating Your LinkedIn Profile, But Alerting Everyone at Your Current Employer That You’re Looking

 

Optimizing your LinkedIn profile so that your keywords, brand, and tone align with your career goals is incredibly smart. But if you’re a covert job seeker, you can run into some serious snags (especially if your colleagues or boss are among your LinkedIn contacts) if you update several things on your profile without first turning off your activity broadcasts.

 

Do it Better

 

If you’re trying to fly under the radar with your search, before you update a single thing on your LinkedIn profile, head into your privacy settings. Within the privacy controls section, select “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” and uncheck the box that says “Let people know when you change your profile…” This will stop all announcements going out to your network, keeping you in the job-hunting clear.

 

  1. Proactively Seeking Out Opportunities, But Not Tracking Them

 

It’s terrific that you’re out there networking and proactively sleuthing out potential job opportunities. But if you have no system for keeping track of what you applied for and when, who you contacted and what the response was, when they suggested you call back, and so on? Your brain is going to turn into mush trying to keep everything straight. Worse, you could embarrass yourself by forgetting where you left off with people.

 

Do it Better

 

Grab a job search tracking sheet template online (many are free), or build yourself a simple Excel file that tracks all of your job applications, networking meetings, recruiter calls, and interviews. Be sure and include a column that alerts you of status, and when you should follow up with each contact.

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Job Interview Results – Job Search Results

Part #1

The past seven years has offered no sure thing with job interview results.The pre-recession hiring practices by hiring managers are gone out the window.The pre-recession salaries have also gone through an evolution.However the approach of the job hunter somewhat remained the same.

So what changed?

The new hiring norms:

  • The anxiety of the new norms yet to be discovered including too many business and economic unknowns by hiring authorities is contributing to uncertainty with the results and expectations of the hiring process.
  • Organizations routinely hire a limited number of employees and ask them to do many more tasks and have more overall knowledge than ever before.

Competing candidates:

  • Currently there are many candidate options of all types pursuing the same job.
  • This includes a group who in the past may have been in the near-retirement category but are still competing for jobs.
  • In the past a candidate who is very diverse, intelligent, talented, with above average communication skills would more than likely get an offer.
  • Currently employers have a much more narrowly focused approach to the hire. The focus could include wanting a subject matter expert in a certain industry, subject matter expert in certain processes, and a subject matter expert in a certain career path with little deviation that may be considered a hybrid career path.
  • Employers are still looking at “The Big Picture” when hiring, but that big picture at times has gotten smaller. In the past the big picture could include succession planning, building a management team, and the potential future direction of that employee. At times the big picture could be all about immediate needs of a certain group, their behaviors, lack of production, cost or loss, and who can fill many gaps and wear many hats.

How to address the hiring change?

A multiple tier job search approach:

  • A narrow or obvious approach that focuses on your last job and/or previous experience which could be a competitor or vendor of your last or current employer is one approach.
  • This approach would include submitting to a similar industry, job title, and job environment. You can then be considered the subject matter expert in several categories.
  • The vendor approach that focuses on vendors that provided your employer products or services or customers who purchased your employers products or services is always a target.
  • Consider the synergy approach that focuses on industries that have a connection to your career path such as different types of FDA regulated products, food, medical device, and/or pharmaceutical.
  • Give consideration to the out-of-the-box approach. With technology changes industries have hiring needs that requires them to hire different types of professionals than in the past. Do your homework with this approach.

What job search habits to change?

Your presentation – job search approach:

  • Know what resume formats are popular and being used by your competitors. If you do not know what your competition is doing then you will get left behind.
  • Do not allow the reader of your resume to assume anything such as who your employer is and what products or services your current or last employer provided.
  • Keep in mind there are two ways a resume will be seen: 1) the readable resume when you submit to a reader and 2) the searchable resume that you have posted in a database. Key search words are important.
  • Read many job descriptions and be aware of the industry standard power words for your career path.
  • Read other resumes in your industry and career path and make note of the power words they are using. Main stream industry power words will complement your readable and searchable resume results.
  • Carefully evaluate the job titles you are using. Some employers will label you with a creative job title not identified as an industry standard title and may distract or miss-lead the reader.
  • Submit a resume that speaks clearly to the details of the job description. Refrain from submitting a general resume that only identifies what you think are important accomplishments.
  • If you decide to submit a cover letter, consider providing quantitative information that may set you apart from other candidates. Let the reader of your cover letter see and compare your quantitative level of responsibility, so they can see alignment with their environment and save everyone time and effort.
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