Having recently joined the ranks of the unemployed, a daunting position at my age (and, let’s be real, any age when it comes so suddenly upon us), I found myself at unexpected loose ends. Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared, as I had already been considering a shift in employment in the nearer-rather-than-distant future. I had the rudiments of a decent resume in place. I had been making contacts with other companies. I had (a framework of) a plan. Unfortunately, I was now working from a position of unemployment, rather than employment. It doesn’t look great and it doesn’t feel good, either.
Not one to wallow, (not for long, anyway), I started figuring out what to do next. I immediately applied for unemployment benefits, started polishing the resume, and mentioned my availability to a number of friends, cohorts, and former employers. I had gotten the news of my new status on a Friday at 3:00 pm (who does that to a person!?) and by Tuesday afternoon benefits were approved, retirement was reinvested, my car was paid off, and I was ready for The Next Big Thing.
I started doing what I needed to do to find employment, but am glad it wasn’t immediate; I wanted it to be good. I didn’t want to settle (at least not immediately) for anything less than a place where I would be fairly compensated for making a difference, for doing what I loved, and for feeling like I was both supporting and supported. In addition, I knew I had an event to produce (my volunteer gig!) in a few weeks, after which I had already planned a search.
That said, maintaining unemployment benefits requires a number of “job search activities” a week. Some weeks, especially since I am hoping to change career paths, it is hard to find a decent number of jobs that I want, that I am qualified for, and that offer a sustainable level of compensation. However, there are a number of activities that count, including job fairs, job search classes at the workforce commission offices, attending a “Job Club” and others. The concept of a Job Club fascinated me, so I looked around and didn’t find much on offer locally, at least not with that search term.
I was already associated with a group of “Burning Professionals” (started by friend M7, if I recall) that has periodic, though irregular, happy hour meet ups. We also have a Facebook group that has served as a means for everything from recommendations for car repairs to networking, from professional head shots to helping each other with our resumes. However, in person, it has been mainly a happy hour meet up.
At the most recent one, a number of us who attended were looking for work, (coming off sabbatical, looking for a change in direction, moving from freelance or looking for more freelance gigs, or laid off like me). While there, a number of us brainstormed the idea of meeting specifically to enhance our job search. When one of my friends called a couple of weeks later, wanting to get together to brainstorm and hold each other accountable, the idea of forming a job club for ourselves and those others from the happy hour/ the larger Facebook group took hold.
We held our first meeting on June 26th, welcoming about 10 people, and a tiny meet up on July 3. We’re still in the nascent phase, and working on where this is going, but I hereby announce the formation of the Central Texas Burning Professionals Job Club. We may store info here, I may start another website for it, or we may just form a google group or Facebook group for document management, announcements, etc. The next meeting is slated to be held on July 10th, location dependent on RSVPs.
Hope to see you there.