Job Support Group Action Plan

Despite the ever growing population of unemployed individuals, there seems to be a lack of job support groups. Why is this? The reason is because we need more people to become leaders in their communities and start job support groups.  There is no reason the unemployed should feel isolated, alone, and depressed. As a nation we must come together and support one another during these challenging times.

Frankly, I am beyond tired of hearing about the rising unemployment rates. Even if you have a job, all the negative news just makes you shake in your boots wondering if your job is next. I feel we are caught in this cyclone of pessimism that seems be gaining speed with each day. We need to break free of this negativity and MOVE FORWARD! If we allow ourselves to be stuck in this black hole of despair, there is no way we will ever get out. I urge people to become leaders and come up with creative ways to restore faith and hope in our society.

With that being said, if you feel compelled to take the lead and start a job support group, below are some ideas that may help you:

1) Find a convenient location. Some places to consider are:

•Church
•Library
•Coffee Shop
•YMCA
•Community Center
•Your House (if you have the room and feel comfortable opening your house to strangers)

2)Advertise. Here are some possible ideas:

•LinkedIn – Post announcements on appropriate Discussion Boards.
•Craig’s List
•Send emails to friends and family. We all know someone who is unemployed.
•Make flyers and post them at the library, coffee shops, and grocery stores such as Whole Foods or co-ops.
•Post a notice in your church news bulletin.

3)Decide on a format for your job support group. For example:

•How often should the group meet?
•Do you want the group to be structured or just a time to connect with other job seekers?
•Are you interested in having guest speakers?

4)For a more structured job support group, you could plan to discuss new topics each week. For example:

•Week 1: General Introductions and “Get to Know You” Session

  • This is a time for individuals to tell their stories and state why they were drawn to a job support group.
  • It’s crucial people feel welcome during this session or they won’t come back.

•Week 2: Resume Writing Tips

  • Please feel free to contact me if you need resources, otherwise a local resume writer or recruiter may be willing to volunteer his/her time

•Week 3: Interview Skills

  • If there is an HR professional in the group, he or she could lead this group. Otherwise, contact a staffing agency or other recruiters in the area to see if they would volunteer their time. The key for this group is to have individuals pair up and practice interviewing one another

•Week 4: Networking tips

  • This can be an open session where people share different ideas on what they have done to network.

•Week 5: Volunteer Experiences

  • Since a large number of unemployed people have been volunteering, have people share their experiences. What have they learned? How have they grown? Have any job leads come out of volunteering?

•Week 6: Career Change Discussion

  • Being unemployed can make you re-evaluate your current career path. This group can be open to those contemplating new careers.

Other Considerations:

•During each session, make sure people sign-in and include their email addresses. A blog or email chain can be started so please can discuss topics and support one another outside the job support group meeting time.

•Keep the energy of the group positive! While people should feel comfortable sharing the ups and downs of being unemployed, make sure the group isn’t one big pity party. If you find a group member playing the “victim” card (“Why me? Blah..blah…blah..), try to gently redirect the group in a more positive direction.

•Be creative. Add a wellness component and start a walking group or meditation group. Have a potluck one time and have each group member contribute something. Try to add an element of fun and lightheartedness to the group.

•Start each session with an open floor to share successes (“Got an Interview!”) and challenges (“Didn’t get the job.).

•Make sure group members are supportive and non-judgmental of one another. Set the ground rules during the first session. These rules could include: 1) No criticism, even if you think someone is crazy for wanting to make such a drastic career change 2) Be a good listener and allow others a turn to share their story 3) Don’t feel pressure to speak and only contribute if you feel comfortable

Colleen Canney is a Career, Life, and Wellness Coach based in Milwaukee, WI. For more information on her services, please visit: www.colleencanney.com or contact her via email at colleencanney@live.com.

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