Job search is hard. And it’s even harder if you’re looking for a job alone. That’s why online job search support groups exist – to help you get through the tough times. But while there are many advantages to participating in these groups, there can also be disadvantages.
It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Pros of Online Job Search Support Groups
- You find people going through the same thing who really understand. Try as they might, friends and family often just don’t get it.
- Even if your friends and family get it, if a job search takes longer than expected, you may start to feel uncomfortable coming to them again and again with stories that start to sound the same – at least to them.
- As well-meaning as they may be, friends and family can give you bad advice. Or conflicting advice. And then they wonder why you aren’t taking it.
- Job search support groups are often clued in to helpful advice and the latest job search information – or at least good resources that will give you that.
- You may meet people who tell you about jobs that you’re interested in or help connect you to others who might help.
- The group is there to support you and for no other reason (well, other than to get support themselves). And that feels good – and helps keep your spirits up.
Cons of Online Job Search Support Groups
- While there are plenty of good online groups out there with useful advice, sometimes they are so caught up in the online job search guru scene, they are suggesting things that may be more of “the hottest trend” and not necessarily the best use of your time.
- The groups themselves, just by their nature and ease of access, may suck you in to the point where you spend hours online with them. It feels like you’re doing job search, but are you really making the best use of your time?
- You’re spending so much time online, you aren’t getting out there enough where you can connect with real live people.
- Not all online groups are run by people who know job search well. Many are run by people who are good at support, which is very important, but they may not actually have the best resume, cover letter, or job search methods advice.
- It’s easy to get caught up in the “it really sucks out there” or “there are no jobs” mentality some of the people have. While it’s important to have a safe place to rant once in a while (especially knowing how frustrating job search can be), beware of spending too much of your time with folks that make it all “their” fault – meaning employers, the system, recruiters, etc. Sure the whole process needs a lot of improvement, but too much time grousing about the very people who you want to be hired by makes it harder to connect for real. If they become the enemy, then where do you go from there?
- Too many hours online can depress your energy, and sometimes even keep you from looking elsewhere to find work-related projects, temp work or volunteer work – or even in-person job search support groups and workshops – that could perhaps more effectively keep your spirits and energy up, and lead to more networking connections. In-person connections wherever possible are an especially important part of the job search process.
So Are Online Groups A Good Thing or Not?
Despite all the cons I listed, I think online support groups can be a good thing. In moderation. But if you feel yourself getting sucked in, pull yourself back out. The good groups let you come and go without pressure to be part of the clique.
They also manage the group well enough not to let one or two “loud” voices dominate, which is often easier online than in person. And if you can find an in-person group near you, give it a try.
But whatever type of group you choose (or even if you don’t choose any groups), please don’t get all your information from one place. I’ve seen people getting bad advice, even from the most well-intended “experts”. Use your gut instincts when deciding what makes sense for you.
There are very few absolute truths in the job search world (apart from the obvious, like not calling the interviewer an idiot to his or her face. So do your research and make your best guess. You probably won’t be too far off.
What kind of experiences have you had with online job search support groups?
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