CAREER ADVICE: Network … Network … Network
Do you find yourself out of fresh ideas on how to jumpstart that job search? Wondering why, when it seems as though you’ve done all the right things, your phone isn’t ringing? Ask yourself this question: “When was the last time you networked?” So many job seekers fail to use this highly effective job-searching tool to its fullest advantage. Could this be you? Have you networked lately?
Let’s review a typical day: You went to the grocery store to pick up some milk this morning. After breakfast you dropped the kids off at school then hurried off to your dentist appointment. When you returned, your neighbor Charley was outside so you stopped a moment to chat with him. Later, you squeezed in a workout at the gym before going back to get the kids.
Did any of these daily activities present a potential job prospect for you? The answer is YES! Each time you talk to anyone during the course of your day, a networking opportunity presents itself, one that could potentially lead to a job. It doesn’t matter if that person seems completely removed from your field of work. They could end up being the one to connect you with the perfect job.
How? Think of it as real time professional networking, such as that which is done on websites such as LinkedIn. The same concept applies. Your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances all have friends, neighbors and acquaintances, who in turn have friends, neighbors and acquaintances, etc. The larger your network the more opportunity unfolds. It’s all about exposure … putting yourself out there.
A simple fact: Most jobs are not listed on the web, in the newspaper, through temporary agencies, or otherwise. The majority of jobs are found through networking, or “word of mouth.” The jobs in this group (up to 80%) are known as the “hidden job market.”
Therefore it could be argued that networking is the mightiest and most effective tool in your job search toolbox. Yet for one reason or another many job seekers fail to utilize it.
“I don’t like people I meet to know I’m unemployed,” one says. Or, “I’m embarrassed and shy to talk about it with people I know.” Although it can be difficult and stressful, you must reject this mode of thinking in order to tap into the hidden job market and increase your chances of finding employment.
Would you hesitate to call the fire department if your house was on fire because of embarrassment? No … because you need that house! Well, you need a job too. Think about it. It makes sense. If possible join groups that include people in your specific field … all the better! But even those who are not in your field may know somebody who is.
Develop a “30-second commercial.” Don’t be overly verbose just succinct and straightforward about your employment goals.
Avoid saying, “I will take anything.” Not only is this usually not so it is a weak statement and fails to show intention, a common mistake made by many especially during a down economy when jobs are scarce. There’s no need to sound desperate just focused on where you want to go … back to work!
Begin to incorporate your “commercial” into casual conversations with your neighbors, your banker, or dentist. Networking takes practice. With time you will feel more at ease. Start with tiny steps, practicing on those closest to you and then branch out.
Consider having business cards made. You can make them yourself inexpensively on a computer or order them online from companies such as vistaprint.com, or zazzle.com. They don’t need to be fancy but must contain your name, contact information and job title. Keep them with you always along with copies of your resume. When opportunity knocks you are prepared.
Utilize websites such as LinkedIn, The Ladders and Face Book for increased exposure. Know what you want to share in terms of skills, knowledge and abilities. But take this advice: Never post information on any website (this applies to social networking sites) that you would not want a potential employer to see. This could preclude a job offer.
It’s happened before and is more common than you think. Your Face Book page could be used as a screening tool. Your email address and your voicemail greeting must also be suitable for job searching purposes. Be aware of how they sound to others.
– Gloria Sinibaldi is a career professional that has worked in the employment field since 1987. While working for the Employment Development Department in Fremont and San Francisco, Gloria’s clients included professionals, welfare recipients, youth and the general population of unemployed individuals. She is a trainer, coach and job developer. Her accomplishments include launching Fremont’s “Welfare To Work” Success Center and coordinating PRONET, a 250-member job club for unemployed professionals. She lives in Lake Tahoe with her husband, Ralph. For questions email email@example.com
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