Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships


Spotlight on Job Clubs

By: Ashley Gerwitz


Job clubs are one of the unsung heroes of our economic recovery. They offer practical and technical tools for a successful job search, including networking, social media training, and direct access to employers seeking qualified employees. But they also offer much more: fellowship, spiritual and emotional support, and confidence.


The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships’ (CFBNP) Community of Practice (CoP) on Workforce3One provides an online place for job club leaders across the country to find and communicate with each other, share tools and promising practices, and connect with Department of Labor programs. In May 2011, when the CFBNP launched the CoP, the Employment and Training Administration issued Training and Employment Notice 42-10 to the workforce field to provide information about job clubs and encourage partnerships between job clubs and the workforce system.


Over the past 18 months, the CFBNP has connected with more than 1,500 job clubs across the country. They have facilitated and recorded a number of inspiring success stories, including the following:


  •          Victoria Gaulrapp from Boulder, CO felt that she had reached a dead end after nearly four years in her job with a home furnishings manufacturer. So, she decided to visit the Christian Career Circle at Sacred Heart of Mary Church in search of inspiration and contacts. At her first meeting, Victoria quickly realized that she was not alone, in both her job search and challenges in the labor market. She found comfort in the fellowship and faith at the Wednesday night meetings. She took advantage of the materials and job search and preparation resources assembled by the group’s leader Bob Raikes. And she tapped into new hiring networks; it seemed that if a member was looking to work in a particular field or company, someone else in the group always knew someone who could be of help. Through the help of the job club, Victoria landed a new position as a corporate trainer for a large transportation construction company.


  •          Paula Brand is a career advisor for the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation at the Arnold Station Career Center near Annapolis, MD. A couple years ago, Paula started visiting some of the church-based job clubs in the community. She developed an especially strong partnership with the Employment Network Forum at Severna Park United Methodist Church, which she regularly attends to share information about resources available to job seekers at the Arnold Station center. Inspired by the Employment Network Forum, Paula decided to start-up the Arnold Job Club at her center. The job club has proven to be very successful in both bringing new customers into the career center and offering a new set of services to existing customers around networking and peer support. Paula even provides opportunities for customers to serve as volunteer leaders of the group. These volunteers help plan and organize the meetings, while also developing valuable skills, contacts, and experience for their resumes. At a recent Thursday afternoon meeting of the Arnold Job Club about 20 job seekers came together to share contacts, leads, and job search tips. About half-way through the meeting they were joined by two recruiters from a local insurance company looking for talented sales people.       


Job club leaders like Paula Brand and her volunteers can access a range of resources and tools on the CoP for running their groups. For example, a number of groups have uploaded their workbooks and toolkits. Two of the most popular are the Career Network Ministry Handbook used at McLean Bible Church in Virginia and the Crossroads Career Network Workbook used by more than 80 church-based job clubs.


There are a number of informative guest blogs on the CoP authored by job clubs leaders from across the country. Ken Soper, founder of EaRN Employment and Resource Network in Grand Rapids, MI, wrote a blog on what it takes to run a successful job club. In Sacramento, CA, Dan Lott puts on an innovative event he calls “Networking Night” at his Bayside Church job club. Read his blog to learn more.   


The CFBNP also regularly hosts conference calls and webinars in order to communicate directly with job club leaders and shares resources and information. Earlier this year, the CFBNP teamed up with the Business Services group in ETA to host a webinar on job fairs. Job club leaders from California, Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio shared their experiences and tips for running job fairs. Listen to the webinar.  


In order to more clearly document the work of job clubs, the Department of Labor’s Chief Evaluation Office is launching a job clubs evaluation this fall. The evaluation will take a close look at the growing movement of job clubs across the country, especially those groups based in the community and religious organizations and run by volunteers. The CFBNP plans to use the evaluation to better understand how job clubs can partner with the public workforce system.


For more information about the CFBNP and job clubs contact Ben Seigel at

Guest Blog: Networking Nights and Mixers Make a Difference

By: Dan Lott of Bayside Church Career Coaching Ministry

Networking, meeting and building connections with new people is a very important activity for the job seeker. It connects them to job opportunities and particularly the 80% of open jobs that are “hidden,” or not published publicly. Yet, many struggle with motivation and confidence.As a ministry we sought some way to help.

 A job fair was not a good answer as there are many job fairs in the region. Furthermore, “hidden jobs” are not typically found at a job fair.

The answer was our “Networking Night,” which is a mixer not a job fair.

Networking Nights give each job seeker a chance to practice their job seeking skills while receiving feedback and/or advice on networking skills, resumes and job pursuits from individuals we call “Networkers. Networkers give contact names for information interviews or job openings when they see potential.

We have conducted 12 Networking Nights over the past 4 years with 700 job seekers and 300 Networkers participating. The job seekers have received well over 1,300 connections More than 25 people have normal found jobs as a result.

Networkers are attendees who work in organizations in the Sacramento region. These Networkers are individual contributors, supervisors, managers and executives. We do not ask the Networkers to bring jobs. We invite them to just come to mingle, encourage, give feedback, and connect with our job seekers. We prepare the Networkers with three briefing e-mails and a 30-minute briefing that night. We make a point of emphasizing the minimal commitment and time requirement.

 We prepare jobseekers by requiring them to bring business cards, a resume, and a personal summary as their “ticket” into the Networking Night. We help them in the preceding three weeks get ready and be confident.

The personal summary consists of three parts:

-The first part is their response to the question “What are you looking for?"

-The second part is a success story: a situation where the job seeker experienced success, the action taken, and the

-The third part is two good networking questions to be used in their conversations.

A typical Networking Night will have about 60-70 Networkers (Bayside Church attendees) and 70-80 job seekers in attendance. For two hours they meet and talk about the job seekers’ experience and background as well as the Networkers’ organization. The job seeker is encouraged to be interested in the Networkers’ organization and role as well as their own job pursuit. A job seeker will have 5-10 conversations during the Networking Night.

The job seekers walk away with over 100 new connections for informational interviews and potential jobs. As a result of the Networking Night many are invited to interviews and some job seekers receive job offers. Importantly, all job seekers leave with higher confidence, higher motivation and hope.

One Networker from a recent event named Mike said, “Thank you for your efforts to serve well! I had the benefit of having good, solid conversations with eager and articulate, quality people I may be able to help a couple of them find what they are looking for. Jon, a job seeker shared this report, “It was awesome. I have contacted the four solid contacts and set-up lunch or coffee beginning Thursday. I have also sent thank you notes to all the others I met with. Thanks for all you do for us. The room was full of people with servant hearts Praise God!"

 Dan Lot is the Director of Career Coaching Ministry at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, CA