Loss of job clubs makes the hunt harder

Six years ago, the last time Holly Swyden was job hunting, there were a couple dozen job transition support groups meeting in churches and schools in the Kansas City area.

Now in another job hunt, Swyden was dismayed to find fewer of these job clubs with regular schedules and good attendance.

“Without them, I think job hunters miss support and camaraderie with people who understand what they’re going through,” Swyden said. “In the job clubs you find a comfort zone you don’t find anywhere else.”

The decline of these support groups clashes with a new Gallup poll report that Americans rank unemployment as the nation’s top concern — bigger even than dysfunctional government or the overall economy.

Yet for reasons including dwindling attendance among job seekers themselves (who either found jobs or suffered job club burnout), the clubs are fading. Some dedicated job club leaders continue to provide counseling, but there are fewer meetings overall.

In the Kansas City area, for example, Johnson County Community College this year ended its long-standing public job club and eliminated a position held by Laura Johannesmeyer, a community career office employee who had for years organized and shared job club information throughout the Kansas City area.

“I’m just so disappointed,” Swyden said. “She provided a great service, and the clubs offer human contact that so many job hunters need.”

Job hunters seeking such advice can check with large public libraries, community colleges and large churches to ask about resources.

There also are job help agencies such as the Full Employment Council on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area and Workforce Partnership on the Kansas side. Most big cities have similar government-funded or public-private agencies that serve as “one-stop career centers” with resources to help job hunters.