Yesterday I cited an article in Sunday’s New York Times that publicized the growth of off-line networking groups comprised of people seeking employment. These groups reduce isolation among the unemployed, provide emotional support to group members, generate leads, and, when properly designed, provide structure to the job seeker’s search campaign.
Over the years I have given presentations to many such groups in the greater Pittsburgh area. When the leadership was strong, the groups flourished. When the leaders found jobs and were not replaced with strong individuals, the groups foundered and, eventually, died out.
A key element that leaders and group members had to address was the feelings of anger, frustration, and depression that inevitably accompanied the stress of the job search. Group leaders had to guard against the meetings becoming “pity parties” where gripes were aired and nothing constructive was accomplished.
Perhaps the greatest drawback endemic to such groups lies with the composition of the membrs. Duh! They are unemployed. They are no longer tightly connected to their former jobs with the linkages to working colleagues, customers and vendors that accompany the job.
Please understand, these groups are valuable and do serve a useful purpose. However, the job seeker is better served by learning how to penetrate the hidden job market by combining informational interviewing with word-of-mouth referral networking. Please contact me for more information on these essentail tools for the job seeker in a recessionary economy.