Community - Your job search is a team sport
In the Good Book we find many stories that still apply to us in the 21st century, even for those who find themselves in career transition. In one story, we read about a paralyzed man who learns that the Teacher is helping many people. Like the other folks desperate for a change in their circumstances, he wants to go and be cured of his condition. But there are a couple of challenges he faces: he’s paralyzed so getting there is a major challenge, plus there are massive crowds seeking the same thing. The good news is that he has several friends willing to carry him on a stretcher to get to the house where help can be found. Once they get him there though, the place is so jammed full of people there is no way they are going to get to see Him. Not giving into the futility of the occasion, they call upon their persistence and creativity. They hatch a plan to raise their friend up to the roof and then dig a hole big enough to lower him down to get face-to-face with the Decisionmaker. When He sees the extraordinary effort they made to get to Him, He immediately puts our hero back on his feet and remarks that He hasn’t met anyone else like this.
Let’s take a closer look at why being in community is so vital to your job search.
One of the most natural things we can do when we have a loss is to withdraw. We feel sad, hurt, and maybe angry too. I don’t know about you, but if I’m feeling this way the last thing I want to do is go meet a lot of new people! The desire to isolate is exactly the opposite action we should take though. I have a friend who once described feeling like he was living in a snow globe, stuck in his only little reality while watching the world seemingly go on around him. If you’re feeling that way too, here are a few pearls of life wisdom that also apply to a job search:
- Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
- A brother or sister is born for a time of adversity.
- A wise person seeks many counselors.
- As iron sharpens iron, so one person another.
The obvious lesson is that we are better together! Whether it’s encouragement, new ideas, networking relationships, or accountability, there are many reasons to be in community. Let’s look at a few of the reasons to be in community:
- Encouragement – going back to Lesson 1 on keeping an even keel, there is a lot of rejection on the way to getting that coveted job offer. Some days we will be giving the encouragement and some days we will be receiving the encouragement. Our emotional gas tanks can run low and it is a true gift to be able to help another bounce back from a disappointment.
- New ideas – This is the wisdom of the crowd. I know I don’t have all of the good ideas and I suspect you don’t either but when we share our story, our struggles, our successes with others, we benefit from their experiences and their unique thought processes. Additionally, there are so many resources available to job seekers at your library, online, and from career coaches that it would be impossible for one person to know all of them.
- Networking – this is probably the most obvious reason people join a job search group. It is likely that your next career move will come in some form or fashion from a networking contact. One thing you will probably discover is that people who are searching for similar roles can become great resources for you. If you and someone else are looking for roles in Marketing, it is likely that you’re not looking for the exact same thing but may bump into opportunities that might be a better fit for your job-seeking friend. Of course this works in both directions and you may be the beneficiary in other situations. Caveat - we will see in Lesson 3 that if we start networking too aggressively before we have our story down, it can actually be counterproductive.
- Accountability – I believe this is one of the most powerful aspects of being involved in a group. This is the opposite of the pity party coffee klatch. When we hold ourselves accountable to others, we are much more likely to follow through on our commitments. If I said this week I was going to reach out to five new contacts and direct mail three new target companies, I can assure you I don’t want to show up next week not having done them. Left to my own devices, I can come up with all sorts of excuses but when I have to share with my peers, that’s a different story!
- Resources - Usually, these groups will have guest speakers who are authorities in their respective areas. Often, they will have plug-and-play access to career coaches, resume writers, LinkedIn experts, and other resources in the job search ecosystem that have a proven reputation for helping.
WARNING: One good reason to NOT get together with others is to have a pity party. Sitting around commiserating only burns up valuable time and energy you could be applying in a more constructive way. It might feel good for a few minutes to vent but it will get you no closer to your goal. Another false sense of community is being on LinkedIn all day trading encouraging platitudes and posts with others instead of doing the hard work of executing your job search plan. It feels better than watching daytime television but it is about as productive.
How to find a Job Search Community
In most cities, there is at least one, if not several job search groups you can join. Some are free and others have a modest participation fee. A quick Google search (job search group + your city) will give you an immediate head start on this. Similarly, you can find these on LinkedIn with the same search string.
Secondly, as you are networking, ask others if they are in a group they find helpful (or if you’re speaking with someone who previously was in job search, what groups they found useful). Nothing better than a satisfied customer to point you in the right direction.
For some people, they have received outplacement services from their ex-employer. Many outplacement firms offer group meetings and this can be a great place to start to find community.
If you are not in a job search group, may I strongly encourage you to find one? The camaraderie, shared ideas/resources, networking options, and accountability will fuel your search.
- Have you been a Lone Ranger in your job search? If so, how do you think it has potentially held back your search?
- Which of the benefits of being in community with other job seekers resonated the most with you?
- When will you commit to participate in a group?