There's probably one not too far from you right now.
My Chamber of Commerce job search story
In 2001, I moved back to Israel from France after leaving my web development production manager job at Amazon.com. I took a break for a few months before starting my job search in December of that year.
As I sat down to think about how to plan my job search, one of the first questions that came to mind was:
“For which employers would I be most valuable?”
“Which employers would most appreciate my skills and achievements?”
Since I had just left a successful job in France, the answer was clear. And this was in 2001, before another 30,000 French citizens moved to Israel.
But how to find French companies in Israel, or Israeli companies with ties to France?
A French friend of mine, working at the time for the Tel Aviv branch of a major French bank, had the answer:
Visit the France-Israel Chamber of Commerce, where I could get a directory of all the member companies. And I didn't even need to be French myself.
With that in mind, here are…
20 reasons to visit your local chamber of commerce
What is a chamber of commerce?
Also called ‘boards of trade' or ‘trade boards', chambers of commerce (CoCs) are organizations that encourage business among members.
They're organized around a theme which is often location-based (country/state/region/city/etc.) but could also be based on ethnic groups, religious groups, age groups (e.g. Youth Chamber of Commerce) or anything else.
Here's why you should check them out.
1) Local job advice
Whatever the theme of the chamber of commerce, the people there will know the general culture of member companies and can share job search best practices.
2) Local job listings
They'll also know who is hiring.
3) Inside information
Or who is about to start hiring but hasn't said so yet, i.e. hidden jobs.
4) First pickings
So you can apply first, knowing that inside information.
5) Low competition
And you won't have to compete with loads of other job seekers because you knew about the openings first, and most other job seekers aren't taking advantage of the chamber of commerce anyway.
6) Research local labor laws
CoC representatives will be able to tell you about laws, regulations, permits, licenses, etc.
7) Research local industry
CoC rep.s will also be able to tell you about industry trends and news.
8) Research local companies
They can often give you a member directory or point you at one on their website.
9) Recommendations for go-to companies
And share which companies everyone is raving about (or not).
10) Introductory seminars for graduates
The CoC will often provide courses, free or paid, that will help you break into their industry.
11) Training courses and seminars
Or provide courses, free or paid, that will help you change career paths, update your skills or just get ahead, all while staying in your industry.
By attending events or joining a committee, you can meet member company employees and learn who you need to meet for a job.
13) Personal branding
By attending events or joining a committee, you can impress member company employees so that they want to give you a job, or refer you to someone who can.
14) Foreign job advice
If you're looking for a job in another country, a national/binational/multinational (e.g. ‘European Union') chamber of commerce can help you learn the job search culture of member companies in a relevant country, while sharing job search best practices from over there.
15) Foreign job listings
They'll also know who is hiring over there.
16) Extremely low competition
Foreign companies will sometimes post job listings with the chamber of commerce because they specifically want to attract candidates from abroad like yourself.
17) Research foreign labor laws
For example, to check if you need a work visa, whether you're eligible and find out how to get one.
18) Research foreign industry
CoC rep.s will be able to tell you about industry trends and news, possibly while translating from a language you don't yet speak, or explaining implications you couldn't possibly yet grasp without understanding the market context.
19) Research foreign companies
Since you're probably less familiar with market leaders or other employers you'd most want to work for in another land.
20) Find foreign-related local jobs
If you just moved from a foreign country like in my story above, the chamber of commerce can point out local companies who need people like you with foreign experience and business connections.
Question of the article
If you've been to a chamber of commerce on your job search, past or present, which chamber was it and what was the best piece of information that they gave you?
If you liked this article, you'll find handy my Top 60 LinkedIn Groups for Job Seekers and Recruiters.