In past blogs, I have written about the benefits of attending job search clubs, from networking, learning new job search techniques and improving self-esteem, and getting out of the house and away from the computer. Now, I want to share with you another idea, the idea of job search buddy groups and how they can really jump start your job search.
Buddy groups are different from the traditional job club – where 20 to 30 job seekers attend to network and take part career workshops. Instead, buddy groups give you a space to share such things as your frustrations, successes and seek advice from fellow job seekers. These groups also allow for members to become accountable to each other, which is very important in order to keep going strong.
The elements of a good buddy group are that each member gets time, usually 10 minutes, to share such things as the types of jobs they are looking for, how their job search is going, what they are doing to improve, goals for the next week, and what resources and help that they need. The beauty of this is that each member shares what has gone well in the last week, and by stating their goals for the next week, they feel obligated to accomplish them.
Setting up – It is easy to set up a buddy group. I would recommend the number participants of 4 to 5 members, and a meeting of once a week, same time, the same place. Members need to be committed to meet each week, and there needs to be a fixed agenda. Face to face is the best option, but Skype meetings can work as well. I would suggest coffee houses as meeting places or meeting rooms in local libraries. For leadership, each meeting needs a facilitator for timing and making sure the meeting is keeping to the agenda. This facilitator can rotate each week.
Meetings – It is imperative to start each meeting on time, and at the start of each meeting, it is important to recap the ‘ground rules’ such as confidentiality – Vegas rule, keep all conversations positive and non-judgmental. I would also suggest starting the meeting with a good piece of news or positive quote. The goal of each meeting should be to have each member leave feeling more confident on their job search than when they arrived.
Topics – Possible topics to discuss would be debriefing interviews, what went well, what could have been done better. Peer review of resumes and cover letters, and requests for leads and needs. If members have an interview coming up, it is recommended to arrange a call to a fellow buddy for a prep-talk before the interview.
Problems – Of course with any group of people come together, there are bound to be problems. One possible problem is what to do with the non-contributor – sometimes you have a member who is quiet, without anything to add. The best way to handle that is to ask them, “do you have any ideas that would help Sue Jones?” The second problem could be the Me, Me, Me syndrome. Do you have a member of the group that seems to like the sound of their own voice? Handle this by using a timer and being strict when the time is up. Finally, as job searches are filled with enough negativity, it is imperative that you end any negative talk. Be insistent on keeping the conversation positive. Remember the number one goal of the meeting, to have each member feel more confident with their job search.
Individualized – Buddy groups, unlike traditional job seeking meeting are meant to concentrate and tailored for the job search needs of each member, and not a place to network. Buddy groups generally meet once a week for about 2 hours and provide individualized support. New ideas are exchanged, such as how to network into particular industries, how to focus resumes for a particular position and more importantly, what should be accomplished during the following week.
Accountability – Members report on their accomplishments each week, creating a sense of accountability, which pushes each member in a positive direction in their job search.
Please share with me your experiences with job search buddy groups.
About the author…
By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdco. By night, Rachelle provides career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.