When you’re unemployed (or under-employed and working part-time), you may find yourself all alone behind your computer, applying for jobs online and posting your resume on Monster and CareerBuilder. While you do need to apply for positions for which you’re qualified, online job search activities can be very discouraging, especially when responses and invitations to interview don’t come quickly enough.

Alternatively, consider getting out of the house and joining a job seekers’ networking group or job club. The support and camaraderie of these groups will diminish your feelings of isolation and despair, while providing ways to expand your job search efforts beyond print and online job postings.

Typically, job clubs are structured and facilitator-led, designed to support people through their course of unemployment, to help them get back to work as quickly as possible. Memberships are generally free, aside from nominal fees to offset costs for printed materials or room rental. Meetings are usually held weekly or biweekly, where members can network with each other, share job leads and key contacts at your target companies, and listen to presentations and workshops by guest speakers.

Some groups offer opportunities to practice interviewing skills and to have resumes critiqued or rewritten. In others, the group facilitators and members will network with businesses, recruitment firms, and employment agencies within the community, to uncover unadvertised, hidden job market leads, which are shared at meetings, via email and through private LinkedIn, Yahoo or Google Groups.

To find a job seekers’ networking group or job club in your area, go to Job-hunt.org: http://www.job-hunt.org/job-search-networking/job-search-networking.shtml. Select your state from the list; then scroll through the groups listed for your state. You may notice that some groups in your area serve specific populations, e.g., folks in the 50+ age range or at the executive-level and/or industries such as IT or manufacturing. When you find a group that appeals to you, click on the website (if available), to learn more about it; or contact the group facilitator if a phone number or email address is listed.

These groups may also be offered by your local library, church, synagogue, community group, village/municipal township office, or unemployment office / Career One-Stop. You might also find meeting announcements for job seekers’ networking groups in the Business or Community Calendar sections of your local newspaper, a free employment weekly newspaper, or by simply Googling “job seekers’ networking groups” plus your city, state, and area code.

Before you commit to membership and attend regular meetings, visit the group once or twice, to get a feel for the agenda and goals, as well as the overall energy of the facilitators and members. Most importantly, be sure that the atmosphere is upbeat, positive, and proactive!

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin 2014. All Rights Reserved. www.career-success-coach.com