We first talked about “WOL for job hunters” over breakfast. It was February, and he needed to catch the last flight to Zurich before the US closed its borders.
The experiment we discussed ended this month. Here’s what we learned.
The basic idea
Christoph Lindinger’s company, skillsgarden, helps individuals with their careers and helps companies with innovation, leadership, and culture. He wrote to me about using WOL Circles to assist people finding new roles. That led to our meeting where we agreed on how it would work.
Christoph said he would bring together a diverse group, at least half of whom would have the goal of finding a new role. He would meet with the group along the way and collect feedback.
Each week, I would send them the new Circle Guides via email and include examples related to their goals. I grew to feel like I was a part of their journey, giving them support and a gentle nudge each Sunday.
Feedback from the participants
After their Circle ended, I met the group for the first time. On the video call was a delicious buffet of accents: Italian, Finnish, Sri Lankan, Welsh, German, Swiss.
I knew the skills they worked on in their Circle would help them access more opportunities. After all, purposefully building your network and shaping your reputation through visible work are fundamental to any job search.
What I underestimated was how they would feel.
For those looking for a job, the Circle gave them a sense of psychological safety and connection. The support, shared accountability, and structure of their Circle helped them make progress and feel good while they did it. Just as important, they felt they were more than their goal, more than just a label like “unemployed” or “laid off.”
As other Circles experienced, they started as strangers and became friends by the end.
Using a Circle to find a job
There are many good courses to improve your interviewing skills, LinkedIn profile, resume, etc. If you have been laid off, there are outplacement companies like Lee Hecht Harrison that are paid to help you. (One of the Circle members actually worked with them.)
But what do you do when those courses and services end?
If someone you know is looking for a job, encourage them to join a WOL Circle to complement the traditional job search offerings. You’ll be helping them develop skills and increase their odds while they strengthen their confidence and sense of self-determination.
That’s a wonderful way to support someone looking for the next step in their career.