Schools are no longer the only source of "alumni." Alumni can also mean former emplyee which can be as good, sometimes a better, connection than a school. It also applies to those who have served in a military service.
People who have worked together usually get to know each other fairly well, and can be very good connections for finding that next job. This is a great foundation for the highly-sought after "employee referral" for your next job. Read How to Connect with Employee Referrals, the Source Employers Prefer for more information.
Even someone you didn't know when you were working for the former employer can still be a good connection. The connection is your common familiarity with the corporate culture. Possibly, you may have known many of the same people, even if you didn't @ work together at the same time or in the same place.
Those people can help you find and evaluate the new connections and job opportunities.
Alumni groups fall into 2 major categories, and both are extremely useful when they apply to you.
These seem to fall into two major categories:
Independent groups are founded and managed by volunteers who create a Web site, leverage a social network site like LinkedIn or Facebook, or use a mailing list like a Yahoo! Group.
Other groups are actually sponsored, managed and/or funded by the former employer (who often re-hire former employees).
Usually, the corporate sponsorship or volunteer management is made clear on the website, mailing list, or in social media.
These groups connect members of the U.S. Department of Defense services organizations.
Members of the military, particularly those who trained, served in combat, and/or were deployed together, share a bond that is life-long, and many organizations support those networks across the country.
Some groups are for veterans of a specif war or period of conflict. Some are for specific services or even specialities within a sesrvice. Others accept any veteran, regardless of timing, service, or specialty.
If you know of an active alumni group which is not listed, send us the URL. If you see a group which is not active or is inaccurately listed or described, also let us know so we can fix it. Send info to feedback at Job-Hunt.org
If you don't find one of your former employers in the lists above, don't give up. Other venues for groups offer to help you connect with former co-workers as well:
LinkedIn Groups are available for corporate and military/veteran alumni. They connect only LinkedIn members, and often include current employees as well as alumni.
Watch for multiple LinkedIn groups connecting alumni/ae of the same business. The number of members in the group is usually posted on each Group's Profile page by LinkedIn, along with a description. Biggest is not always best, as usual.
If you don't find an appropriate LinkedIn Group for your former employer, consider starting one.
Google Groups are limited to email but can still be quite useful. Search through their directory using the name of your former employer to see if there is an active group. Again, you might want to start one, if one doesn't exist, particularly for very large companies.
Facebook has many, many groups, but no central directory of them. Use the Facebook search function to find groups for your former employers. If there isn't one, you might want to start it -- a great way to network!
Meetup Groups meet face-to-face. The seem to be a bit more ephemeral than other groups, but do offer the opportunity to meet face-to-face with others who have similar backgrounds or interests. Pick your location and find a compatible group, or start one if there isn't one currently available.
Leverage your "alumni" connections, whether corporate or educational. You'll reconnect with people you liked. You may have an easier and more pleasant job search.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.