Back in February the national unemployment rate reached 7.5% and Washington passed an historic Stimulus Package. Three months later most Americans are still wondering “When am I going to feel the effects of this Stimulus Package and what do I do until then.” There is no quick fix solution; however at First Impressions this is what I tell my clients to do to get back to work faster and make job hunting a pleasurable rather than a traumatic experience.
My good friend Meredith Haberfeld, founder of Institute for Coaching articulated it best when she said “a job search requires focused intention, directed and diligent effort, a realistic but bright outlook, and patience. People who do not find a job after several months are often not directing their effort most effectively.”
A great resume is essential because it is a marketing document that defines who you are and what sets you apart from the competition. However, too many job seekers focus their time and efforts finding ways to blindly submit their resume to job postings, with limited results. They do this because it is easy and impersonal. What they should be concentrating their efforts on is networking – this is how successful people find a job!
So why do so many job seekers avoid networking? The answer should not surprise you. Most people have a misconception. Some say its uncomfortable or unprofessional to approach people they know and some say its awkward or inappropriate to get in touch with people from their past. Many people feel it shows a sign of desperation. Bah Humbug – these are all excuses! However the biggest excuse I hear is “people don’t care enough to help me or they are just too busy.” What’s funny is, when you ask someone, even a total stranger to help you find a job the universal response is “I would love to help; what can I do.”
So how do you develop a job search network? Networking is a multi-step process of alerting as many people as possible that you’re in the job market; this is not the same as asking if they have a job for you or know of a job opening.
The key is setting a goal to make at least three new contacts every day with people in and out of your field. Whether it’s social networking, online or face to face; with people you know or people you don’t – cultivating a network will garner results.
Some of you need to work up the courage to reach out and some of you are ready to dive right in. Once you start, be interested in what each contact is up to and ask if they know anyone that would be good for you to connect with. In return, be interested in what they are up to and share what you know and look for what you can offer them. If your contact helps you, that’s great. If they don’t, it’s still a pleasant opportunity to link in with them (no pun intended).
Start with family and friends; call the ones you stay in close touch with, ones you talk to 10-12 times a year, and especially the one’s you only see at special occasions. Ask them to introduce you to people they know. Next, speak with people you know socially in places like your health club, fraternity, church or synagogue, communal organizations and PTA’s. Speak with your doctor, lawyer, accountant and real estate agent, and ask them to do the same.
Then find friends from your past and reconnect. Find people you went to college with, high-school, grade school and even summer camp. Each conversation is not a desperate plea, it’s an opportunity to connect, find out how they’re doing, share what’s happening in your life and enjoy the conversation. I did this and I am now reconnected with dozens of people from my childhood, HS and college days. When you get over any fear about diving in this can actually be great fun – and shockingly fruitful.
Sometimes you need to be creative and a little out of the box; so try talking about your job search and give a resume and a few business cards to your dry cleaner, barber or hairdresser, personal trainer and any bartenders you know. They are service oriented, and have contact with hundreds of customers. More so, they know and like you and will gladly help you in your time of need.
A must is reacquainting with old business contacts. Touch base with prior bosses and coworkers. Contact clients and vendors you worked with in the past. Go through all the business cards you accumulated and call everyone in your personal and business address books. If they’ve moved on, Google them and look them up on Linked-In, Facebook and other social networking sites and in telephone and business directories
Finally, use social networking sites like Linked-In, Facebook, Myspace and others to obtain new contacts. Don’t post a resume, post a job wanted. Reach out to friends of friends and get to know them. Join networking groups online and around the city to meet people who can hire or recommend you and expand your network. Join social, business and trade organizations and get involved; better yet volunteer to lead a project.
Once again the key to a successful job search is to carve out dedicated time each day to making contacts with 3 new people from your life. Do this and you will find yourself looking forward to the next day.
Reconnecting is actually a great experience. Don’t worry about getting a job from any given contact, just follow the prescription above. It’s a two-way street and involves being a good listener and giving back. If you make 3 contacts like this every day, enjoy the connections, and hold yourself to this commitment day in and day out, you’ll be impressed with the results.
Then once you find a job, continue doing this and you’ll see that the same principles will further your career.
My thanks to Meredith Haberfeld for sharing her insights with us all.
Career Rocketeers, if you need some professional advice, I will be happy to speak with you and/or critique your resume for free. Just email me your resume with contact info and I will call you and let you know what I think firstname.lastname@example.org
Perry Newman, CPC, is President/CEO of First Impressions Resumes and can be reached for a no cost consultation at 646-894-4101.
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