Each week, Greg Nord sits at the head of a long table where he conducts a two-hour session with the Job Club of the Verdugo Jobs Center. The club offers a space for people applying for jobs to collaborate as each person discusses their experiences, advice and setbacks in looking for work.
Nord, who moderates the discussion each week, began a recent session by telling everyone his familiarity with the job search.
"As you know, looking for work is a full-time job, and it's a depressing full-time job," he said.
Seven years ago, Nord left his job with a government agency to care for his ailing mother out of state. Upon returning to California, he expressed difficulty finding work until joining a group at a WorkSource Center in West Los Angeles.
"Knowing I had to speak in front of people and let them know how my job search was going, it made me accountable. It motivated me during the week so I would have something to talk about," he said.
As each person at the table updated Nord on their search, he listened for their current plan and objectives. In some cases, he suggested they take a free class through the Garfield Campus at Glendale Community College or volunteer where their interests lead them.
One man new to the group said he'd been out of work for three years after his job with a market database research company condensed their staff.
"It's frustrating when you send a resume out and you never hear back from the company," he said.
"How do you think your resume is?" Nord asked.
The question spurred a conversation on the use of optical scanners that companies use to target key words they're searching for in each resume they receive.
"The more key words the optical scanner sees, the better chance it has of getting some human eyes to see it," Nord said. "I know that sounds wild and futuristic to hear, but that's the type of market we're in right now."
Nord suggested hunting for key words in the job's description.
He also told the club to tailor-make a cover letter, which he referred to as "a free page of advertising."
Handwritten thank-you notes after an interview are also important, he said, as is the "likability" factor, in which employers gauge how a prospective employee will fit in with the workplace.
By the end of the meeting, the group had shared information on upcoming job fairs, reminded one another to stay positive and even shared some homemade peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.