Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships

Spotlight on Job Clubs

Posted by Ashley Gerwitz - On October 31, 2012 (EST)

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

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