Dear Matt: I hear a lot about job search networking and support groups. Can you tell me more about them?
Matt: I'm a big believer in using job networking and support groups. It gets you out of the routine of only sitting behind your computer and e-mailing off résumés. It also gets you out meeting people and making contacts, hearing what others are dealing with and learning new ideas that can help in the job search.
Cindy Jaques of Minnetonka is an advertising/marketing professional who attends two job transition support groups in the west metro. She knows from personal experience just how valuable these organizations can be - especially in a market like we have today.
"They let you meet other individuals who are going through a transition and can give you great tips that you might not have thought of yourself," says Jaques. "They also provide great emotional support - which is just as important."
Minnetonka-based Joanne Meehl of Joanne Meehl Career Services, TheJobSearchQueen.com, runs the Face2Face Job Search group (www.face2.net) in Wayzata. She says it's important to visit as many groups as you can, then choose a few that fit your needs. One of the groups Jaques attends - SamsNet - is geared towards sales and marketing professionals. The other at Wooddale Church features members with a variety of backgrounds.
Meehl offers these tips on what you can gain from a job transition support group:
Interview practice: You'll get a chance to practice answering interview questions, and in presenting yourself and your credentials, all in a safe place. Make your mistakes there.
New ideas: You'll learn suggestions and ideas you'll pick up from other job seekers. Be open in learning from them, and helping them, too. Networking is a two-way street.
Inspiration/motivation: People there will reinforce that yes, you have something to offer, and that yes you will land a great new job.
Latest trends and tips: You'll learn the latest about job searching in this volatile economy, from the facilitator and speakers. As people change, so must your methods, so attending these groups helps you keep current.
"Treat your fellow job seekers like the valuable connections that they are," says Meehl. "You don't know which of them may be in the position to hire you a month or two down the road."
For a comprehensive list of Twin Cities job networking and support groups go to http://www.mnwfc.org/hennepinsouth/jobsupportgroups.htm.
Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.