If you’re unemployed you’re heard of all the networking support meetings available to job searchers. Ever ask yourself, “Why do I want to spend my gas driving XX miles to meet with other unemployed people?”
Feel like it’s a waste of your time to meet with other unemployed individuals when you could be spending that time marketing yourself to prospective employers? Why spend time talking about missed interview opportunities when you could be smoozing with the pros?
As a sponsor to a group of unemployed workers, I’ve seen unemployed support groups shrink. When I first attended this group two years ago as a resume writer, the group was 30-40 people strong. The last meeting included me, the group president and two unemployed individuals. We spent the morning chatting and eventually got to talking about unemployment, personal experiences and potential job opportunities. When I asked what happened to the group, the president said many had lost interest.
Here are three reasons why networking with other unemployed persons is an important part of your job search. It can be a bridge to reaching that pinnacle of success and hearing those words, “You’re hired!”
It’s Not About You
Networking with fellow unemployed individuals isn’t about what you get out of it; it’s what you bring to the group. In return, you do end up gaining a lot in return.
Maybe that new guy just endured a nasty, cruel layoff from a cynical manager out for revenge. He’s lost his self-confidence and feels like the world has ended. Or that professional just laid off after 13 years with the same company now must look for a job; a totally new experience. How many newbies hide behind the facade of a smile, talking like nothing’s wrong, yet they need an injection of positive influence to help make sense of the stresses they now face?
When you smile and greet those newbies, you are the sunshine of their day. Hearing your story may tweak an idea that propels them to renewed confidence and higher energy. You become the catalyst of hope to a bleak horizon. That’s how you contributed to the meeting.
Nobody Understands Like You Do
People with jobs don’t understand the unemployment experience. It’s unique to the chosen few. Dropping from a six figure income to $1,800/month (the maximum unemployment payout in most states) is mind-boggling. Adjustments are the same for C-level managers and first level workers because suddenly the lifestyle they know is threatened.
If you’ve been unemployed for more than a year, you’ve “been there, done that.” Freshly laid off workers are stressed, their confidence levels sag below ground, and they walk around like deer in headlights at times wondering what to do. That’s where you step in.
Greet and meet them. Get to know, like and trust them. Share your tips with them. You may not become best buds, but your input encourages them. You’ve weathered the storm. They now know they can and will survive because you showed up and your presence brings promise.
You Are Needed
Just like your resume needs to show how you add value, contribute and what accomplishments and achievements you bring to the prospective employer, your attendance contributes and adds value to weekly unemployment support meetings. Nobody brings the same experience as you. Your input may click an “Aha” moment. You are the needed piece to their unemployment puzzle.
Few unemployed people want to stay that way. They want their salaries back, benefits and medical insurance. But to reach that goal requires self-confidence, self-belief, and motivation; all elements lost to the layoff pink slip. Your personal contribution to unemployed support groups becomes the biggest difference in someone’s day.
What benefits did you get from an unemployment support group? Want to share the difference someone made in your network meeting experience? Share your comment. If enough of the same appear, you might see a blog post about it!