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Examiner jobs


Career Search

How using support group can bolster your job hunt

By Craig Harrison
SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER


What's missing from your job seeking game plan? You have your résumé, power suit, references and portfolio. You've read the latest books and newspaper articles. But what about your support system? Specifically, have you considered the value of forming your own job-seeking support group? If your search will extend beyond a few weeks, the benefits may surprise you.

A weekly support group of a few other hand-picked professionals offers you a free source of valued opinions, a wealth of pooled knowledge, an audience for brainstorming and networking, as well as moral support and some built in accountability.

The group offers several benefits:

Brainstorming. Often great inventions, realizations and even revelations result from brainstorming, as job seekers discuss ideal next jobs, potential companies to contact, innovative approaches to employ or new industries to explore. Your support group of men or women from different backgrounds, experiences and training ensures the group will come up with ideas you wouldn't have uncovered alone.

Networking. Everyone in your support group brings a network of their own: people they know and people those people know. Each belongs to alumni associations, professional organizations, church groups or social clubs. You'll be amazed how easy it is to connect to a company, organization or VIP through networking, and it can begin in your support group.

Nothing makes a cold call easier than turning it into a warm call. When you're referred to a stranger by someone in common, the doors open that much easier.

Accountability. Let's face it: We often procrastinate if not held accountable. By meeting weekly with your group members and going on record about what you plan to do next week, you now owe it to them as well as yourself to follow through. Do you really want to have to tell them you didn't make the calls, send the letters or have the interviews you promised? Hearing yourself tell the group puts it on record and also convinces you of what you really want to do.

Support. You can role-play interviews and hear others' perspectives on your skills, appearance and strategies. Group members read one another's cover letters, take turns interviewing each other and even conduct mock panel interviews. The feedback is invaluable.

Pooled knowledge and skills. I know five women who formed their own support group. At any given time, one of the five is unemployed, another unhappily employed and the others beginning to contemplate their changing career paths. Each member has strengths: One offered to help the other write a dreaded cover letter. The group reviewed another's vita, and offered constructive feedback.

Best of all, these members enjoy getting together. They make it fun. They meet at different cafes, bistros and eateries. They enjoy each others' company and they've come to know each other on a personal level.

In place of competitiveness, a wonderful spirit of helpfulness prevails. Everyone pulls for everyone else and a special camaraderie exists. Support groups celebrate when one of their members succeeds. The group's esteem is enhanced.

They commiserate when a member falls short. The group buoys the spirits of each member and helps everyone negotiate the unavoidable days of phone tag, days spent waiting to hear about interviews and offers, and the occasional days of rejection. They act in part like a booster club.

Create your own group. Give it a name to build its identity and create solidarity. Now create your own format. In a 75-minute time frame, groups commonly have a 2- to 3-minute check in per member, then 15-minute segments for brainstorming, problem-solving and networking, then 1 or 2 minutes of announcements of each person's goals for the following week. Finally, acknowledgements, recognition of milestones and celebrations of successes small and large send the group home on a high.

Your support group gives you the edge. By pooling resources you will realize the power inherent in GROUP: Get Ready, Organize, Unite and Prosper.

Craig Harrison is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer and communication coach. E-mail him or call him at (510) 547-0664.

    


 

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