Unemployed and “Up in the Air”: Finding jobs on the ground in career groups

Recently, I saw the movie “Up in the Air” – for the second time.

It opens with passing aerial views of various American landscapes as corporate downsizer Ryan Bingham (aka George Clooney) flies to another layoff assignment. The next scene shows employees suddenly realizing that their “job is no longer available.” Oh, my gosh! Too real!

While the content of the movie is about Ryan and his unencumbered lifestyle, the context of the film is the world job loss, layoffs and 15+ million unemployed and in the midst of their own career transition. It reveals the shock and emotional hit of being unemployed, “up in the air” and alone.

No! Wait! Stop! It does not have to be that way!

Hope and New Employment in Career Groups

Last Monday at 7:30 am, I went to North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA and saw 200+ people meeting and greeting one another at a career group event. The volunteer leader, Peter Bourke, invited people to sit at one of 30 round tables.

“Most jobs that get filled are not posted publically,” Peter began. “Most are filled through networking. Networking, however, is really hard without relationships. That is why we are here today. Here you can meet people, make friends, start relationships and help one another.”

3 Rules to Get Started

Peter continued, “Now, here are three rules I think you will find helpful:

  • The 3-foot Rule: If you get within 3 feet of anyone, you are obligated to share your career transition with them.
  • The Help-Others-First Rule: You probably came in today wondering who can help you find leads. I want you to leave and come back in with a new mind-set: ‘Who can I help?’
  • The Have-a-Weekly Plan Rule: Be prepared to share the job and the employers you seek, including a list of top-5 organizations within which you want to network. Know the help you need – whether it is contacts, intelligence about an employer or encouragement to keep going.”

We quickly moved on to a facilitated conversation around the table. Each person had 10 minutes to describe the opportunity desired and help needed. Others offered suggestions, shared phone numbers and email addresses. Today I sent an introductory email to an HR director looking for a contact in a specific company, and a friend of mine who is a VP in that company. That is the power of career groups, contacts, relationships and personal referrals!

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Back to the movie! “Up in the Air” ended with video clips of people who were unemployed talking about their career transition and the power of relationships.

The moral to the story? Career transition is NOT a journey to be made alone. Take the trip with others. Consider it a team effort in which we help one another with contacts, counsel, encouragement and accountability.

Find career groups near you. Be prepared, reach out and help others through their crossroads.


  1. As a former Road Warrior or Regional Sales Manager covering 1/3 of the US most of my colleagues and customer base are outside the Atlanta metro area. It absolutely crucial to go to these Network meetings, whether you got released 3 days, 3 months, or 3 years ago to gain a proper perspective for the preparation and time needed be successful at this job search method.

    You quickly find that in order for you to help people you need to know How you can help your fellow participants most effectively. After my 3rd network meeting I feel less inhibited by the size and number of participants that seem to be growing expotentially in size. Participants who have been coming for more then 2 months seem to have their Act together with Specific Help Need tasks defined for the 8 minute discussion or are in a general Table Coach or Encouragement role.

    It is a fact of life that C3G mirrors our community and state with regards to the talent, college educated, highly experienced professional men and women, raging between 30-60 years of age who suddenly find themselves unemployed perhaps for the first time in their life time. Lets face it so there is no ambiquity. The US economy is in a mess, 96% employment as we new it the past 20 years will probably never exist again.

    The challenge, other then finding away to Get Over the heartache and suffering of each individuals Life Hardship, is to find every colleague in C3G some type of employment. Plus help ourselves in the process to become better Christians in Learning and Facing this social disaster in terms enhancing of our families,community and with better relationship skills. Yes, we want to find gainful employment in the process. But that cannot be the Number One goal for joining C3G and attending individual meetings each week.

    While still a Rookie I would encourage all participants to ask for and receive a written list of objective tasks WE as participants can do with our limited and valuable time every Monday. It would facilitate a better understanding and objective task we could perform immediately to help our colleagues looking for work.

  2. Great comment… it is a great environment to see TEAM at work. Together Everyone Achieves More!

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