New Brunswick’s current economy is characterized by the fallout from the 2008 global economic crisis. This neo-liberal economy is highly competitive. Workers must be flexible and mobile, willing to move both in terms of location and seniority. Employees are expendable, and all too often, temporary. The New Brunswick labour market is characterized by the bilingual demand of many job positions as well as by seasonal work. These factors, coupled with New Brunswick being a have-not province, mean we have a labour environment that is challenging to any job seeker.
Job Seekers NB, founded in Fredericton in 2004, is a volunteer group dedicated to providing a space for job seekers to come together and share resources and information for their mutual benefit. Grant McDonnell is one of the original founders and Volunteer Manager of the organization. His concept was to create a non-threatening and non-biased environment where employers and job seekers could meet to exchange information and make positive contacts.
The founders set out to establish a mutual aid system between job seekers to share resources and information. Job Seekers NB attracts both people who live and want to remain in New Brunswick, and people who want to move to New Brunswick from other provinces. It reaches out to people through Social Media, (primarily LinkedIn), e-mail, its website, and sometimes through being in the right place at the right time. For example, one day McDonnell happened to be at the Job Bank and overheard an unemployed person venting his frustration. McDonnell was then able to offer him Job Seekers NB as an additional way to finding a job.
McDonnell says his concept has been partially accomplished, but he still wants to expand more permanently into other parts of the province. This expansion has been challenging because the organization has had trouble finding facilitators in other parts of the province as well as meeting spaces and getting a decent turn out at meetings. McDonnell says people need to buy into the concept and see it as legitimate. McDonnell’s next plan for Job Seekers NB is to get more employers involved in the organization. However, his organization has to take the lead on this project, since employers are very busy people.
McDonnell says that keeping members actively involved after they find employment will help improve the legitimacy of Job Seekers NB. He encourages those who have found employment to give back to the group through letting other members know about relevant job postings and contacts. The benefit of staying with the group is that as members go through periods of employment and unemployment, relations between members become more effective as the network becomes wider through the different employment experiences members have.
McDonnell’s first piece of advice for all job seekers, whether they belong to the group or not, is to take advantage of all opportunities to network. And as part of one’s networking activity, McDonnell advises job seekers to join Job Seekers NB and trust the method. To get in touch with Job Seekers NB, you can contact McDonnell directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The content of previous meetings are posted to the Job Seekers NB website, www.jobseekersnb.ca.