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Lenroy Jones: Resolve to join groups to invigorate your job search

Personally, I am not into making New Year's Resolutions. However, if you are looking for a new approach to the job search, you might resolve to join an organization and get more active, starting this month. It may just lead you to your next job.

"Membership has its privileges" was an advertisement slogan made famous by American Express from 1987 to 1996. Their message was that you have more resources available by joining and using American Express. Simply put, membership gave you access to all the rewards imaginable.

The same holds true when you join an organization: Your membership provides you with advantages. Many organizations help their members find jobs, mentorship and volunteer opportunities that lead to good advances and/or skill building. Some other bonuses that you can take advantage of are networking and professional development opportunities. You should know that each and every organization is different, and they come with expectations.

You may think that these organizations all have membership fees, and some do. You will want to do your research because there are hundreds and thousands of organizations that list job postings to fill vacant positions that another member may be offering. Bill Booker, executive director with the Lexington Healing Arts Academy in Lexington, said "the job bank that most organizations offer is one of the first places I go when I am looking for someone (to hire) that has industry experience."

Get involved with an organization that will allow you to sharpen your skillset and increase networking opportunities. Organizations that offer ways for members to give back to the community in some way are excellent, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, NAACP, United Way of the Bluegrass, Kentucky Nonprofit Network and many more.

There are also organizations that are more specific to your industry interest. For example, Bluegrass SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) is for Lexington HR professionals, Commerce Lexington Inc. is for the chamber of commerce and has individual and company memberships, and Bluegrass Hospitality Association has company and student memberships. Others include the Association of Fundraising Professionals, National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association and more.

"We recommend our students join an organization for many reasons," Booker said. "The networking opportunities, the continuing education offerings so they can stay current with their field, the newsletters and magazines organizations offer so that they stay current and marketable in their field."

Another way to get more involved during the New Year is the use of technology. Social media is a good way to engage with people, and its use has increased beyond expectations. You may want to consider the available resources to leverage your job search.

The MeetUp application has continued to increase in its worth. This resource is pretty simple with a clear focus: to help groups of people with shared interests plan events and facilitate off-line group meetings in Lexington and around the world.

Seek out groups of people and events that will provide you with networking opportunities leading to employment. Could it be time for you to start a job club?

And don't forget to look into LinkedIn Groups because your efforts there can result in excellent leads. It's is a great place to access networking opportunities as well as information.

Typically, you'll find discussions that give great professional insight about trends, current affairs, job leads, and much more. One suggestion is that you participate in group discussions that interest you or relate to your job interest. This environment allows you to reply to members directly, and it is a great place for receiving others' perspective on the job search, from researching to interviewing.

Most people still don't get the benefits of being in LinkedIn Groups, and you're allowed to join a maximum of 50. By joining Groups you will be able to post and send a direct messages to fellow group members.

If you don't see any organizations that catch your interest, start your own. You can start a Group in LinkedIn or MeetUp today.

I hope you decided to join a new organization or become more active this year. After all, it is true that membership does bring with it privileges.

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