Dear Matt: I live in Ely. Do you know any job clubs outside of the Twin Cities? If not, I'd like to start one but would like some assistance - do you have any ideas?
Matt: Job clubs are a great way for job seekers to network, discuss issues and ideas related to the career search, résumé writing and interviewing. They also can help you stay focused, on task and motivate you to complete your career and job search goals.
There is a Minnesota WorkForce Center about an hour away from Ely in Virginia (218.748.2200). While they don't offer a job club, all WorkForce Centers (mnwfc.org or call 1.888.GET.JOBS) offer free career-related classes and resources. If you can, go to the nearest WorkForce Center and sit in on a class and check out the available resources. Then propose your idea about starting a job club with a career counselor who can possibly help provide more information.
Another way is to contact representatives from other job clubs - no matter where they are located - to ask for ideas on what has worked for them. One great resource and listing of job clubs throughout the Twin Cities is located at www.mnwfc.org/hennepinsouth/jobsupportgroups.htm. Ask for ideas on how to attract members, generate topics and discussion, create action plans, find speakers and guests and develop the overall job club program.
The hard part - especially in more rural locations - is finding the people to attend. Use online resources such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to spread the word about wanting to start a job club. Put an informational post on Craigslist or in your local newspaper (if they can do an article, then the people may really start to come). Contact the local adult education center or chamber of commerce in your area to see if they can provide a list of speakers, or ideas on where to hold the club (such as at a community center, library, coffee shop or somewhere in public where members will feel comfortable going). Call local staffing firms or human resources departments to see if they have ideas on how to attract members. These people might even turn into future guests or resources.
Remember, you don't need large numbers to start a club. Talk to everyone you know, whether they are searching for a job or not. The biggest asset job seekers have is their network. In this case use that network to help you reach your goal of starting a job club. In time, it will happen.
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 email@example.com.