Russell Drehen has been listening to counselors like Robbins since May of last year when he was laid off from his web development job.
Drehen's ex-firm hired the 5 O'Clock Club to help in his job search.
"Coming here has forced me to look at myself and figure out what I want to be doing," says Drehen who has started his own web and video development company last October but is still job hunting. "The tasks they have you do really make you work at finding work."
Robbins' one hour presentation was part motivational, part specific planning. At one point she encouraged the group to think 'out of the box.' "Go beyond the usual to get to someone who can actually hire you," Robbins said. "You might even send your resume the old fashioned way, by regular mail. What a surprise that would be."
Job clubs growing
Whether it's the 5 O'Clock Club or groups formed in local communities by churches, colleges or activist groups, regular meetings of job seekers in today's economy are growing, according to Nancy Wajler, administrator of the Professional Advancement and Learning Center at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.
"People are going to job clubs for many reasons these days," says Wajler. "Some need to feel wanted and needed, while others come to the realization that they need a change but don't know how to do it."
"They are sprouting up everywhere," says David Lewis, president of OperationsInc, a human resources consulting firm. "I speak at local job groups and there's an incredible demand for people like me."
Lewis holds a weekly meeting of unemployed and employed execs himself every Monday morning for breakfast. "With the right attitude, the group can guide you to a better job."
Warnings from some
While they may be growing, some industry experts express caution over what a job club can actually do. "People need to to do due diligence of know the reputation of such a club," says Any Freidman, CEO of Partners in Human Resources International. "Get out of a club if it turns into just a venting experience."
And there's the type of support a job seeker gets that worries John Salveson, co-founder of Salveson Stetson Group, an executive research firm. Salveson says the groups can be beneficial but warns, "Members of these clubs could be giving bad advice. Most people don't know how to find a job and they can steer a job seeker in wrong direction."
But if people go in with their eyes open, job clubs can help, says Wajler. "They're worth it to stay connected and feel like you are doing something positive," says Wajler.
A graduate course in job hunting
For those expecting an easy time as a club member, David Madison, SVP Director of The Guild for the Five O'Clock Club, says they will be disappointed. "What we do is create a graduate course in job searching," says Madison. "It's a full time job to find a job."