August 15, 2012

MEET THE JOB CLUB GURUS, five (5) bright and inquisitive women bursting with energy and a thirst for knowledge.  They are helpful, sweet and social with endearing smiles.  They need nurturing, loving, caring employers who will help them grow as individuals.  Mostly, they just need paychecks.

Let’s take a look at what makes the Job Club Gurus very special Wednesday’s children:

My Sunday morning routine includes filing my unemployment claim over a cup of coffee.  A couple of weeks ago, I got notice that I’d exhausted my initial claim, and now had to apply under the emergency plan.  Right on the heels of having to give notice on the apartment in which I’ve lived for the past 9 years, I was not in the most positive “place” when I opened an email from a former colleague:  “I hope you don’t mind me contacting you.  I am an unemployed mess . . . .”

Sound familiar?  Here was my immediate reply:

Please remember you are not alone.  I think I know how I may be able to help.  I’ve found a great organization you need to know about:  40Plus of Greater Washington.  And the most important part of it is Job Club.”

And I meant every word of it.

I’m not a joiner by nature.  Sorority?  Puhleeeze.  In the past, I have avoided volunteering like the plague.  You see “networking opportunity”?  I see Black Hole.

And then I met the Gurus – my 40Plus Job Club Gurus.  We come from such different walks of life – and even different countries.  What do a PhD linguist, a TV producer, a medical ethicist, a PR/Communications pro and I all have in common?  It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it isn’t.  It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  While we may have arrived at 40Plus as unemployed “messes”, unlike my friend above, we now had each other and could unwind, each in her own way, and get down to the hard task of getting the right job.

During the course of the past five months, slowly but surely, our muscles have relaxed, and we’ve managed to begin to slowly straighten ourselves out and stretch – literally, and figuratively.

We have developed our own combination of talk-and-libation therapy ― and for us, it works.  We laugh.  Loudly and often.  We laugh at impossible job ads with lists of required tasks a mile long including everything but “scrub kitchen sink”, and we add our own taglines.  “Don’t forget, on Monday mornings, bring the jelly donuts!” is just one.  And – two weeks ago at the 40Plus Speaker, we did just that!  It was almost an inside joke.

We’re the living proof that Aristotle was right!  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Like my friend in the email described above, we Gurus are mostly EveryWoman and SuperWoman combined.  The kind that Miss Peggy Lee used to sing about.  We are communications pros, author/educator/editors, Lara Croft Tomb Raider-type adventurers, utility players and real snappy dressers.  We can translate to and from Russian and French, manage your crisis, whip up a dish out of pasta shells and a jar of Smokra ― and probably fix the computer, too.  Hey ― we’re professionals.

To all lapsed 40Plus Job Club members:  get an Order of Exhumation for your Job Club ― now!  And if there’s not quite enough left, make a Dr. Frankenstein patchwork.  Become free agents.  Recruit.

To all new 40Plus attendees:  In my opinion, the single greatest takeaway is the Power of the Group.  Feel free to drop in Monday meetings, but to maximize the experience, go have lunch, form your own ad hoc Job Club, and keep in touch with it.

To all non-40Plus members out there:  Start an Open Job Club forum in your area, and consider establishing a 40Plus chapter.  The organization’s been going strong since the Great Depression, and if you’re greatly depressed, there’s nothing better than a project to get you out of the Job Search doldrums.

The Job Club Gurus are my cheerleaders, midnight texters, fonts of wisdom and (sometimes) captive audience for my imaginary stand-up routine.  They are my reality checkers, deadline nudgers, “Please eat lunch!” reminders, beta testers and new best friends.  We’ve got each other’s backs.

They are the people I know so well, that I can predict if I suggested we swim across a crocodile-infested river, one would immediately say, “I’m in!”; the second will assure me, “I’ll be there”; I’d approach a third by suggesting we stop for a beer along the way.  And the fourth would arrive at the designated river crossing point on time and dressed to the nines.

The only “woe” in this Job Club is the first two letters of WO – M – A – N as in “Whoa! Man, are they great!”

By the way, the punch line to the joke, “What do the Job Club Gurus have in common?”, is that two of us are from Georgia:  Soviet, and the other one.  And two of us were actually born on Wednesday.

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