Starting a Fan/Geek Job Support Group

OK, last week I sounded off on the need for Fan/Geek/Otaku job seach support groups.  So I wrote up a guide – and here's part 1!

Networking, as we are told endlessly, is the key to success in employment.  That's certainly true, especially when you consider the broad advantages of networking that go beyond finding a job and into areas like finding mentors, support, etc.  The reason books on employment, councilors, and coaches go on endlessly about networking is that, in the big picture, it really does help.

You're probably tired of hearing about it – but it does help!

Fans, geeks, and otaku are people that, for the most part, are already highly networked – conventions, gaming groups, cosplay teams, etc.  It's not much to turn those connections into something more.  This is a hint, in case you haven't guessed.

So let me avoid subtlety here: One of the things fans, geeks, and otaku should look at is creating job search groups.

Job searching is hard.  It's humiliating.  It's grinding.  It manages to be both boring and yet panic-inducing at the same time.  It's certainly a lot easier with a team, and I'm going to give you an outline on how to build one.

Step 1: Goal
First, you should actually determine what the goal of the group is.  I would suggest, as a default, the goal is to bring together people looking for work in one place to exchange information.  However, the goal may also include:

  • Breaking into specific industries or even companies.
  • Starting one's own company.
  • Making a specific career change.

However my guess is, for most people "man I wish I had a better job or any job" is a pretty good start.

Step 2: The Membership
Next, determine your membership.  As a default, let me suggest "anyone who is unhappy with their current job" but you may also want:

  • People who are both unemployed and those willing to help.
  • Only people looking to change jobs.
  • Only people who are in a given location.

A big question you have to answer upfront is "what happens to the people on the list get to their dream."  I would suggest that some of them may want to stay on as mentors, but it is an important question to ask.

You also need to determine who's going to run all of this – and what happens when their interest changes.  It may not be an issue now – especially with a lot of people looking for work – will come up.

Step 3: The implementation.
So you've figured out what the goal is and who you want to reach out to.  Next is figuring out how to do it.

Here are my suggestions, in order of preference:

Mailing list
Easy to do and you can use yahoo groups, google groups, or any number of software packages that work on mail servers.  This is my preference because it already works with emails.

  • Advantages: Fast, easy, works with email which everyone uses.
  • Disadvantages: Harder to follow threads, can overload inboxes.

Social Media Group
Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media make it easy (perhaps too easy) to establish groups.  Now these may be too public for people, but they are useful and easy to do – and have all sorts of alerts and features built in.

  • Advantages: Fast, lots of built-in features, easy to set up, easier to follow threads.
  • Disadvantages: Any specific challenges of the given network, privacy concerns, twiddling those settings.

Message Board
Like mailing list software, Message Board software is everywhere.  You can use hosted systems like or download any number of tools to make your own.

  • Advantages: Easy to follow threads, many options.
  • Disadvantages: People have to set up yet another login, you have to deal with a less familiar system.

So take a look at the choices above and find what's right for you!

Step 4: The Extras
Wait, extras?  That's right – you can do more than just talk, post links, give advice, and complain.  Consider taking your job search group to the next level with:

Maybe your group would do well if there was some central repository, news source, place of information, shared space, or so on.  A blog is a great way to do that.

Be sure to check out:

Or just install it on your own.  Every host seems to provide WordPress now!

Newsletters are a good one-way communication.  If you've got a group that wants to stay private, newsletters let you direct bursts of information at specific people (sort of like a blog).  They also may be good if you have a lot of mentors who want to share things.

Be sure to check out:

  • – an awesome news/mailing tool with great free options.
  • A lot of mailing software has newsletter options if you want to set up your own.

Surveys are ways to collect ideas, opinions, and evaluations of the group.  They also can be fun, break up the monotony, and make people think.

Be sure to check out:

If you're really committed to helping people find work, a website for your group may be in order.  That I'll leave up to you – but you never know where it could go . . .

Step 4: Start it!
What are you waiting for?  Gather people together (I find critical mass is about 7), and go for it!

There you go, a quick guide to setting up a Fan/Geek/Otaku job search group.  Now, go forth and save each other's careers . . .  and let me know how it's gone!

Steven Savage