Finding Help for a Successful Job Search
By Patra Frame
Most job seekers find the job search process very difficult.
Yet, few ask for the help they need to succeed.
Worse, both active military and veterans are especially bad at asking for help in job search.
You can get the help you need to succeed by asking for assistance directly (see the Job Search Success Tactics article for details).
But, you also can help your search succeed by helping others who are looking for a new job too. This column discusses some ways to do so. Be creative - use these as a starting point.
Now, how can you work with others to improve your success? Create or join a job club (or job search support group).
Job Clubs: Support or Competition?
Sometimes we fear helping others in our own career area because we worry about losing a job to that person. But this is rarely a realistic concern.
I often have formed job support groups with other Human Resources professionals when I was job-hunting. We revised resumes, shared leads, and provided ideas. We rarely applied for the same job. Even when we did, our experiences and interests were different enough that there really was no competition.
Helping folks in other fields also can be very useful. A job club with members from a variety of careers can give you new perspective on opportunities you may not have considered. People from other career fields can help you reduce jargon in your resume and cover letters too.
The help you give others can provide personal satisfaction. It will help your own job search in many ways. It can increase your ability to demonstrate your value while also helping you present yourself effectively in interviews.
Benefits of a Job Club
The benefits of a job club are significant:
You can help each other with resumes, cover letters, introduction/bio speeches, interviewing topics, and answering interview questions.
Bouncing your ideas off others in the same field helps you see new ways to market yourself.
Talking with people from other fields can also do this plus open your eyes to different working options.
Research becomes easier as the others in your group offer ideas, contacts, and direct information on organizations and jobs that interest you.
The support of hearing about what others are doing is often useful. It reminds you of what you do well and helps you cope on the bad days.
Setting up simple plans and goals and reporting on your actions will help you do those things which you hate about looking for a new job.
Working your contacts on behalf of others gives you a new reason to talk to these contacts, and helps keep your positive attitude and professional contributions in their mind. "If others are asking X for help, s/he must be good at what she does." is a very common reaction.
You can usually be far more objective and creative about another person's resume, skills, and job search techniques than you are about your own.
Having other "sets of eyes" reviewing your documents, giving you constructive feedback on your approach and the methods you are using can significantly improve how you present yourself to others.
Start a Job Club
Pick a few people you know are looking for a new job; add their friends, even. Get together on a regular schedule, weekly often seems to be most effective, and have goals you each commit to. Meet at a coffee shop, the library, or at home. Whatever works!
Join an Existing Job Club
Working specifically in a job group with other veterans can also be useful. You have a community of interest based on your military service so it often is easier to give and receive feedback. This works even better if the veterans are at different stages of their careers and their civilian experience. These might be people from your NG or Reserve unit or veterans you meet through the local Veteran’s Representative at the state employment service or at veteran’s organizations. (See Job-Hunt's Veterans' Resources by State and Military "Alumni" Groups for additonal sources.)
If you are not ready to set up your own group, check out local churches, public libraries, and community groups - many offer job search clubs. Find groups through MeetUp.com, and see Job-Hunt's Networking and Job Search Support Groups for more possibilities.
Join a job club or job search support group, and start learning and contributing!
When you are unemployed, helping others with their search helps you realize you are not alone. It reminds you of the many things you know and offer to an employer. It speeds your successful job hunt. Plus, it can provide a source of support when you hit a bad patch, too.
About the author...
Patra Frame has extensive experience in human capital management and career issues in large and small corporations. She is an Air Force vet and charter member of The Women In Military Service for America Memorial. Patra speaks and writes regularly on job search and career issues through her company Strategies for Human Resources (SHRInsight) and PatraFrame.com where she blogs advice for veterans and other job seekers. Watch Patra's ClearedJobs.net job search tips videos on YouTube, and follow her on Twitter @2Patra and on Google+.