Introduction to Career Clubs

Are you:

  • Entering or re-entering the job market?
  • Wanting to prepare for any changes that may impact your employer, industry or the economy?
  • Wanting to be proactive and not leave your career to chance?
  • Unemployed or under employed?


We have designed a complete set of Career Clubs meeting modules to help you plan and manage your career. The purpose is to describe how Career Clubs can help you, how they work, how to get started.

Benefits of a Career Club

Why Career Clubs?

If you’re thinking of starting or joining a Career Club, you’re probably thinking,

 “Why? What is it about a Career Club that is any different from doing my own individual career research and preparation?”

There are several answers to this important question:

(a)    Career Clubs work better than individual job preparation.  Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the classic What Color is Your Parachute? and a strong proponent of job-seeking support groups, notes an 84 percent success rate when job-search techniques are conducted in groups, compared with a 15 percent lower rate when the same techniques are followed individually

(b)   Many parts of the career process are inherently interactive, e.g. job interviews or working with a mentor. You can substantially improve your performance in those areas by rehearsing or practicing them in a Career Club setting.

(c)    Career Club modules take you through phases of preparation that you might overlook on your own – each segment on the Career Club Wheel™ is examined in these modules.

(d)   Input from other group members will increase the range of options and factors for you to consider and help you select the best answers for you.

(e)   You’re more apt to actually do the work if you make the commitment in a group setting.

(f)     It is a fact that most jobs are found through people we know and participating in a Career Club greatly expands your web of contacts.

(g)    It’s fun!!

Humans are social animals. From birth to death we learn, work, play and worship in groups. Career Clubs are an expansion on the unique power of groups. Career Clubs provide the time and processes for career-minded people to join together to achieve the goal of shaping their careers through conversations, inquiry, practice and feedback.

Group Power

Are “two heads better than one?” Is John Donne’s declaration that “no man is an island” applicable for career planning? The answer is a resounding YES!

In effective groups, each member brings a unique viewpoint as a result of his or her prior experiences and is able to suggest more options and to give more insights on options being considered. In fact, groups can provide better guidance than even the smartest individual in the group.[1] One study concluded that, “Mutual support groups are just as effective as meeting one-on-one with a trained counselor.”[2]

Career Clubs also provide a way to build skills in leading and participating in teams. These skills are increasingly valued by organizations that use teams to solve complex problems and take advantage of the skills and experiences of an increasingly multi-cultural work force.

What can you gain from a Career Club?

Your participation in a Career Club offers you several advantages:

  • Psychological support to better handle the challenges and struggles of managing your career.
  • A structure and process to work on your job search and career management skills.
  • Proven, practical strategies to achieving career goals.[3]
  • A place to practice and to give each other feedback on chosen career management skills.
  • Being held responsible and accountable for action plans between meetings.
  • Affirmation and encouragement on your career management journey.
  • Developing tangible career skills – this is not just socializing.

[1] See The Wisdom of Crowds, Why the Many are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economics, Societies and Nations by James Surowiecki, Random House 2004.

[2] Bright, J.I., Baker, K.D., & Neimeyer, R.A. (1999). Professional and paraprofessional group treatments for depression: a comparison of cognitive-behavioral and mutual support interventions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 491-501.

[3] The process of working in groups and focusing on demonstrating value to employers has a long, successful track record dating back to the depression era of the 1920’s and 1930’s.  We have posted three books on that document this approach. While dated and somewhat politically incorrect, they are useful resources.

How Career Clubs Work


Career Clubs were designed around a basic set of beliefs that serve as the bedrock for Club activities, starting with the most basic belief that we are each responsible for our own careers. The meeting modules include a brief reading of these principles at the beginning of each meeting to build and reinforce the positive values they embody. It is worth a few extra minutes at the outset of the Career Club process to describe why each of the principles is so important.

Eight Principles of Effective Career Planning

Effective Career Planning: Comment:
1. Is my responsibility. We owe it to ourselves and our families to make the most of our strengths. It’s not our employers responsibility or the government’s or a school’s or anybody else’s job to plan our careers.
2. Is an on-going process. Developing options, setting and reaching goals and building networks of contacts is not done well in a crisis mode.
3. Builds on strengths. We will typically earn the most doing what we do best and we need to know what those strengths are and be able to communicate them effectively.
4. Delivers employer value. Employers hire and pay the most for people who can help them the most; we need to be able to persuade them that we’re the ones who can provide that help
5. Is group-powered. Groups provide the widest insight into developing and evaluating career options; they also provide a supportive setting to practice job skills – no man is an island!
6. Builds networks of contacts. Most jobs are found through people we know – it only makes sense to develop a network of people who can help us.
7. Accommodates my preferences. Career planning is not a cookie-cutter process; we need to be aware of our personal preferences in a variety of areas and find ways to accommodate them.
8. Requires flexibility and adaptability. With changes in technology and global competition, entire industries or jobs can go away; there are no career guarantees, we need to be flexible and adaptable.

What Happens at a Career Club Meeting?

Meetings typically last from one to two hours and usually follow this format:

  • Call to order.
  • Read the principles.
  • Brief team-building.
  • Recap of last meeting:
    • Relating individual successes in applying last meeting’s career management skills.
    • Discussions on how obstacles in applying last meeting’s career management skills were overcome.
  • Group interaction session based on the current module (major portion of time).
  • Individual assignments and personal accountabilities for the next meeting. Material needed for the meetings are typically in the workbook for that module as well as material that is available.
  • Meeting critique
  • Adjourn


Using a combination of structured group interactions and self-directed preparation, Career Clubs meeting modules walk members through key aspects of career management as represented in the Career Club Wheel™.

The Club can determine the order in which it takes the modules, but in general the best process is to start with defining strengths, determining where they can be put to the best use, developing the stories or anecdotes that best illustrate those strengths and then creating and executing a plan to obtain the desired position.

The Career Club Wheel™ is an integrated model of the interrelated functions involved in career planning and management:

WHAT are my motivations and strengths? Career Clubs provide a series of exercises to help members:

  • Define and articulate their strengths.
  • Validate those strengths.
  • Identify individual preferences.
  • Express the unique value each member brings to an employer.

WHO will help me? Career Clubs help members:

  • Benefit from the group dynamics of the Career Club process.
  • Gather information on currently-known contacts.
  • Identify, contact and work with mentors.
  • Identify further networking opportunities.

WHERE are my opportunities? Career Clubs provide a structured way to:

  • Conduct investigative interviews on prospective positions.
  • Set realistic, obtainable goals.
  • Evaluate opportunities in their current job settings.
  • Work towards achieving ongoing growth in career opportunities.

HOW will I market myself? Career Club step members through a process of developing what might be considered marketing material and providing sales training centered on marketing the member:

  • Portfolio Development – itemizing jobs and major life experiences that provide clues to and authentication of career strengths.
  • Interview Preparation – strategizing and practicing responding to likely questions and preparing questions to obtain the information needed to make a rational job decision.
  • Email and Resume – writing persuasive emails and resumes and using efficient techniques to distribute them to key people.
  • Campaign – going after specific, targeted jobs.

Meeting Modules

Career Club meeting modules include the following which can be presented in a series of weekly or monthly meetings or which could be presented in an accelerated two or three-day career work shop:

Module: Description:
Organizational Meeting Establish basic processes for group functioning, e.g. expectations and goals; establish basics, i.e. meeting times, places, frequency.
Strengths Using Personal Best Stories and 360 Feedback, begin development of well-articulated strengths statements supported by specific incidents.
Preferences Evaluate personal preferences that impact job satisfaction and discuss implications on the dynamics of the group.
Investigative Interviews* Review process of evaluating new positions or careers prior to seeking or obtaining them.
Current Organization* Develop a strategy and plan for increasing the utilization of your strengths within your present organization.
Contacts and Networking Review importance of contacts and formalize commitments for implementing system to build networks and nurture contacts.
Mentors* Discuss characteristics of effective mentor relationships, evaluate mentors and request mentoring.
Resumes Write and evaluate resumes that clearly state the value the Career Club member could provide to an organization.
Job Interviews Prepare for job interviews where you obtain and provide information needed for both the prospective employer and the employee to evaluate each other.
Job Campaign Combining all the prior modules, plan and implement a campaign to achieve a specific career goal or target.
Sustaining Development Match current qualifications against requirements of long-term goals, review progress on commitments, determine group consensus on number and type of any further meetings.

* Modules and resulting meetings that could be skipped or used selectively depending on the status and needs of the members.

Next Steps

Contact us and we can help you in the next steps of:

  • Starting a Career Club.
  • Structuring your first Career Club meetings.
  • Providing tools to help you facilitate Career Club meetings.

For the professional career counselor, sponsoring a Career Club is an excellent way of expanding your business and services you can offer to your clients. We have a number of support materials and literature to help start and maintain an active and productive Career Club, including a module for an intensive two-day career workshop.

Still Unsure About the Value of Career Clubs?

Answer the following questions to see if Career Clubs would be of value to you:


Yes No
1 Have you validated your three most significant strengths and provided a convincing anecdote or story about when you’ve used that strength to benefit an employer? Yes No
2 Have you considered non-job related activities when looking for clues as to where your real strengths lie? Yes No
3 Do you know what your peers or supervisors think your strengths are? Yes No
4 Have you practiced asking another person the questions you would ask a potential employer to determine her management style? Yes No
5 Have you practiced a meeting with a potential mentor to define the relationship so that it is rewarding for the mentor and the protégé? Yes No
6 Have you brainstormed with others to expand your network of potential contacts? Yes No
7 Have you practiced responding to likely interview questions before you go to job interviews? Yes No
8 Have you practiced asking questions in a job interview before going to the job interview? Yes No
9 Have several people reviewed your resume for clarity and suitability when job hunting? Yes No
10 Do you have multiple viewpoints on the qualifications, advantages and the potential drawbacks to new positions or jobs? Yes No
11 Do you know the method of job hunting that provides far more jobs than Internet-based job posting and searching? Yes No
12 Have others given you feedback on your personality profile and their career implications? Yes No
Total Yes’s and No’s

If you have six or more No’s, you would most likely derive substantial benefit from participating in a Career Club. For more information, contact us.