Ginger Peterson has memorized two dates from 2012.
Feb. 17 was the day she was laid off from the Ambassadors Group.
June 24 was the day she started work at Red Lion Hotels Corp.
She applied for about 50 jobs in between.
Helping her deal with the mounting frustration of her job search was a new program called the Hire U Club, which was started this year by WorkSource Spokane, a joint venture of the state Employment Security Department and other organizations.
WorkSource, which assists the unemployed, selects “high-motivated” job seekers to participate in meetings in which they can hear advice on the job market, share experiences and work through the emotional roller coaster of unemployment.
“I can’t recommend it enough,” Peterson said. “The support that they give each other in the group is phenomenal.”
Peterson was one of 18 people who joined the first Hire U Club, which met for several weeks in the early part of the year. Other unemployed people have started new clubs that form about monthly, said John Dickson, area director for the Employment Security Department. Nearly 200 people have participated in about 10 clubs.
The clubs have been so popular among some participants that WorkSource started a second-level club (called the Hire Achievers) so those who have finished the six-week sessions can keep meeting.
Ray Keevy, a WorkSource employment specialist who has moderated some of the clubs, said the top issues are always the same: interviewing, resumes, finding jobs that aren’t advertised, and concerns of being passed up for openings because of over-qualification or age. Dickson said 52 percent of people who get assistance from WorkSource find work. He suspects that number is closer to 75 percent for people who participate in the club, though WorkSource is still compiling statistics.
Much of the learning within the clubs is from participants as they share experiences. A major focus is keeping each other motivated despite rejections, Dickson said.
“We let the job seekers do the leading.”