In my last blog post, I mentioned how my friend Mark, laid off twice in the past year, is thinking about starting his own business. He's still on the fence about that, so he is keeping his options open by sending out his resume and networking as much as possible. But to keep his morale up, I suggested he join a "job club."

This came after reading a recent story in the Sacramento Business Journal about the Sacramento Professional Network, a job club that helps unemployed professionals network, write better résumés, improve interviewing skills and just keep the hope alive.

It's free to join (a donation of $1 per week for copying materials and paying guest speakers is suggested) and members meet weekly. Experienced professionals, employed or not, also volunteer their time to teach members writing, interviewing, computer and marketing skills. This Sacramento job club is sponsored by Experience Unlimited, a nonprofit that has job clubs throughout California and is sponsored by the state's Employment Development Department (let's hope its budget is not cut during California's fiscal fiascoes right now).

But job clubs are offered in pretty much every state -- check your city and state's employment offices, and your local Chamber of Commerce. The Riley Guide also offers this good listing of job networking and support groups by region. You can also start your own -- here's some good guidelines about putting a good job club together.

I'm a freelance writer but I too belong to a job club, a group of fellow freelance writers that meets monthly. We meet in my building's conference room, bring snacks and talk about our successes, pitfalls and goals. We also ask each other advice for how to market ourselves, write good articles, and -- a big topic recently -- how to get paid on time and in full. Even though I may go into the meeting depressed about the current state of journalism, I leave every time feeling creatively inspired and confident to look for work again.

A job club is worthy for anyone in any industry and any type of employment situation.

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