When job hunting gets tough, candidates groups can provide networking opportunities, job leads, camaraderie and professional guidance. Four Silicon Valley organizations — CSIX Connect, Career Actions Ministry, the Cupertino Rotary Club Job Search Support Group and ProMatch – are all good ones to know about.
CSIX Connect holds weekly lunch meetings at the Saratoga Federated Church in Saratoga and monthly evening meetings at the First Presbyterian Church in Burlingame, as well as special interest groups, casual weekly lunches in Woodside and weekly hikes. The Saratoga and Burlingame meetings feature speakers on topics such as age bias, confidence, self-employment, and networking skills. CSIX also offers several special interest groups focused on different industries. At each meeting, casual networking time precedes a formal presentation. Members who have attended at least one meeting gain access to the group’s email list, which shares job leads and requests for contacts inside companies. CSIX also sponsors a semi-annual recruiters’ roundtable. (Although CSIX’s large group meetings are held in churches, the organization is non-sectarian and is not affiliated at either of the churches in which it meets.)
On the other hand, Career Actions Ministry is affiliated with the Open Door Church in Mountain View, where it meets, and a prayer is said before the main presentation. However, the group is open to job seekers of all or no faiths. It meets on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
In addition to its group meetings, Career Actions Ministry places members on success teams of five to 10 members each. These teams help one another with job search strategies during the week. The group also has a resume database and job-lead emails. When they sign up for the resumes and job leads, members agree to facilitate introductions inside companies for other participants.
The Cupertino Rotary Club Job Seeker Support Group meets weekly from August through June at Monta Vista High School. Members may join at any time. Instructor Jim Gibson leads the group of about 20 through the process of learning career networking. All members receive a binder of search tips, along with the latest edition of What Color is Your Parachute?. Gibson also sends out a list of job leads. All of the group’s members receive a resume critique. Then, their finished resume is distributed to members of the Rotary Club. Other services the group has provided include a free professional photography night to produce appropriate headshots for members’ online profiles.
Unlike the other groups, which are private nonprofits, ProMatch is funded through the Employment Development Department and the Nova Workforce Board. Members must attend an orientation, submit proof of their eligibility to work and volunteer eight hours per week with the organization. Based on their skills and the organization’s needs, members are placed on various teams to plan and produce workshops on topics such as interviewing, networking and resume development. They also help stage and record the weekly group meetings with guests who speak on job-hunting and career topics. At times of high unemployment, there is a waiting list to join the group, which typically has between 200 and 300 members. Like Career Actions Ministry, ProMatch helps its members form small success teams for mutual support.