It doesn't cost a penny to start a Job Club. To get your group going, all you need is a commitment of time and the genuine desire to succeed. It can take as little as a few hours to a week to form your group and coordinate your very first meeting.
Make a list of prospective members:
Clubs should have eight to 12 members. Any fewer and there isn't enough diversity of experience and perspective; any more and you can't offer customized advice for each person. Make a list of the people you know who are looking for work.
Not everyone must be unemployed. Some may have jobs, but they're looking for better opportunities. You might also include someone who is happily employed and would welcome the chance to assist others.
It's best to have a mix of industries and functions. You should also have a mix of ages and levels of experience. There's nothing wrong with a 20-something and a 50-something joining the same group, especially since that dynamic is highly reflective of today's workplace.
Not all of these people should be your best friends. Think about former colleagues, the friend of a friend you've never met, neighbors and so on. You can stick to one gender or have a mix of both men and women. The goal is to pull together a group that will feel comfortable with one another, since candid communication is key to the success of your group. Once you come up with your master list, jot down why you think each person would be an asset.
If you simply don't know eight to 12 prospective members, you can solicit participants by posting a request on Craigslist.com, on message boards and with local groups. Contact your clergy, doctors or other service providers to recommend people in your area who'd be good candidates for consideration. Specify a deadline by which applicants must respond, and don't promise them a spot until you're sure you'd welcome their participation.
Invite individuals to consider joining:
Since there is a time commitment to participating, it's important to spell out the expectations to your prospective members so they can determine if it's the right fit. While nobody can promise to stick with something forever, you can request a minimum initial commitment, such one hour a week for a month. After that time, you'll be able to assess the effectiveness of each member and the group as a whole.
Meeting weekly is ideal because it enables you to maintain momentum. Everyone has a different schedule, so you must determine when the group can meet. Some may prefer mornings, while others will only be available evenings. Poll everyone and then settle on an established time -- every Wednesday at 7 p.m. or every Saturday at 9 a.m., for example -- so it can be built into everyone's week. Decide where you'll meet. Options may include your home, rotating among every member's home, a church, the public library, a local coffee shop or another conveniently located free spot.
Assign a captain:
Some things can't be done by committee, so it's typically easier for one person to assume responsibility for those tasks. Among them: Distribute the agenda 48 hours before the meeting, send reminder e-mails about the time/location, track attendance, lead the meeting (this can be shared among members going forward), report the weekly successes on an exclusive Job Club message board.
Name your club: