PHOTO: Matt Barton
Finding yourself unemployed after years at the same job can sometimes be demoralizing. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension and the UK Alumni Career Services are partnering in Job Club to make the search for that new job less daunting and more successful.
Job Club, free and open to the public, meets twice a month in the Fayette County Extension office. With sessions that focus on successful job search strategies, overcoming obstacles, resume writing, networking strategies, making contacts and gaining perspective through volunteering, interview skills, financial management skills and personal branding, the club welcomes motivated job seekers who are currently out of work, underemployed or hoping to make a career transition.
More than 60 people, primarily in the 45 to 60-something age range, attended a recent session, though there were younger ones there, as well. They came from all walks of life and from 10 different counties. One woman was about to finish her master’s degree and wanted to pick up some tips on finding a job befitting her new degree. Another had been a longtime employee of a local bank that had recently been bought by an out-of-state company. One man was looking for contractual work in the computing field.
“We just had a recent attendee who lost a job after 25 years. She said it (Job Club) sharpened her job search skills, but her biggest takeaway was the emotional support and the positive environment. We hear that over and over again,” said Diana Doggett, Fayette County family and consumer sciences extension agent.
Doggett and Caroline Francis, of the UK Alumni Career Service, run the club and, with the help of Diane Kohler of UK Human Resources Career Development, organize the sessions. Francis has been familiar for years with Job Clubs in other cities. She thought it would be a good fit for Central Kentucky, but knew she needed some help with the logistics, so she turned to UK Cooperative Extension. Doggett thought it fit perfectly with Extension’s mission of outreach. What started out on paper in January 2013 as a nine-session plan has continued without letup, fueled by a room filled with job seekers and interested company recruiters.
“From the beginning, employers started coming,” Francis said. “We had several come that first day and share job leads.”
Doggett and Francis both say the program has been a success, and they have testimonies of successfully employed club members to back them up.
“…after nine months of searching for a job post-graduation, because of Job Club, I was able to meet a recruiter from Aerotek who has gotten me a couple of great interviews….I am proud to say I now have a job with Toyota… as a production engineer,” said former Job Club member Marc Mercier in a written statement on the club’s website.
“The testimonies are what has been probably the most reinforcing part of this program,” Doggett said. “It is gratifying to us to know that Job Club is fulfilling the need for job search strategies and financial management through tough times as well as being a supportive network.”
Of the responses to a survey club attendees took, 78 percent had either found a job or had had two or three interviews.
“The basic idea is we’re just trying to put people back to work,” Doggett said.
Job Club meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 9 to 10:15 a.m. at the Fayette County Cooperative Extension office, 1140 Red Mile Place in Lexington. Business attire is encouraged. Recruiters and employers are also welcome to attend. For more information, call the UK Alumni Association at 859-257-8905, the Fayette County Extension office at 859-257-5582 or the UK Staff Career Development Office at 859-257-1946. Additional information can be viewed at http://bit.ly/1k1jYn9.
Diana Doggett, 859-257-5582