Getty ImagesOn Monday morning I met Deborah DiRago because we were both guests on the public radio show, "The Takeaway." We were there to talk about DiRago's efforts to find a "job search buddy" -- someone who would help her stay motivated and accountable in her job search. DiRago has been unemployed since May, when her job in international event planning suddenly disappeared and her company announced it was shutting its doors.
After a while of navigating the job market on her own, DiRago decided that it would help if she found someone to meet with regularly to move along her job search. She says she is looking for the kind of person who'd hold her to task if she said she was going to make 5 career-related contacts in a given week.
So far, the job buddy search has been almost as challenging as the job search. While she does have a few friends who are out of work, none of them seem interested in creating this kind of group. But she thinks it's depressing to do the job search completely on her own. So she placed ads on Craigslist and Quentin's Friends (an invitation-only online community) to see if she could find someone near her Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City.
DiRago got a few responses to her ad and even had a meeting with two men, who appeared to be good candidates. That group fizzled. "One of them got a freelance job. The other seemed too busy. Neither seemed motivated enough," she told me. "To me, you're either in this or you're not. It's not half-way." She's now thinking of going to a networking event and approaching people rather than doing this all online.
With the unreliability of today's market, DiRago is also developing a few side businesses -- what she calls her Plan B and Plan C. She is a professional organizer and a practitioner of Reiki, energy healing and tarot readings, and as we parted she handed me separate business cards for each of those activities. She plans to use her job search buddy to also get the entrepreneurial side of her career moving along.
Even if she talks to some other people who aren't the best matches, DiRago says she believes you can learn something from every person you encounter. She even got a few useful tips from one of the guys from her first meeting. "I've been looking to volunteer without something that involves a lot of paperwork, and this guy told me about One Brick, where I'm now going to volunteer," she said. He also recommended she read Keith Ferrazzi, whose new book, "Who's Got Your Back," gives advice on how to create groups like the one she's hoping to create. (I recommended Ferrazzi's book too, as well as Tory Johnson's resources on how to start a job club. )
Anyone else out there looking for a job search buddy? Has anyone succeeded in creating this kind of arrangement? If so, tell us about it in the comments. And if there's anyone in New York City interested in meeting with DeRago, leave a note for her along with your email in the comments as she'll be checking in.
Listen to our interview here.