How Do I Network?

The advice is to network to get a new job, but how do you do that?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

Everyone says I need to network to find a job. As a recent graduate, I am applying to multiple jobs online and not getting responses. How do I network?

MP
Short Hills

 

Job hunting takes persistence and resilience. In the past, job hunting consisted of submitting resumes along with a cover letter either by mail, fax, email or online. Some job seekers like to post their resumes on selected job search sites for employers to view.

In the last few years, many job seekers are using social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and job sites where the site is doing the preliminary matching for you. Many of these matching sites request a membership fee. Since there are so many free job site resources available, I am not a proponent of online job sites that require payment for memberships.

The Warren Township Library and I conduct quarterly workshops (for free) on the tools available through your public library and how to work with these tools to develop your job search strategy.

One approach is to set up job alerts by selecting key words that solicit job matches from numerous job boards. Selecting the job sites you want to search will take a bit of research once you refine what you are looking for. Once you determine certain areas of interests, then determine the best key words to target your job search criteria. Determining the key words may take a few trails but is worth the time to get it to your liking.

Ryan Derousseau of Mediabistro explains in “Can You Reach the Right People While Schmoozing on LinkedIn?,” “online schmoozing has become the norm… but are you really reaching the people that will help your career while networking online?… The answer is yes. Hubspot confirms that 28 percent of LinkedIn users are senior executives… and of all the users, 67 percent are between the ages of 25 and 54… 80 percent of recruiters say they use the site to find applicants.”

So, how does one network in today’s market? In person, through social and professional meetings, through meetup.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, your ability to generate conversation is essential to turn your online relationship into a cultivated longer term relationship that will last beyond this job search period.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Graduate Job Seeker

The writer isn’t graduating until May, but how should he handle his job search now?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics in May 2011. I applied for corporate graduate training programs in financial services firms so I would have a job upon graduating. They seem to be all filled. I have been advised to wait until I’m near graduation and then see what entry level positions are available. I’m worried with the state of the economy whether that is a good idea. What would you recommend?

JS
Short Hills

 

Corporate Graduate Training Programs in many of the financial services firms have reduced the number of graduates in their program. These programs are very competitive and typically require a high GPA and previous internship experience. Involvement in some related student activity or clubs and having someone inside the firm recommend you is very helpful.

Although many of the graduate program selections are typically made between year end and February, there are usually some last minute fall out that occurs within these programs as previously committed graduates change their decision to accept. With the economy being tight, there will probably be less drop-outs than previous years. I would suggest you send holiday wishes (can be holiday cards or via email or LinkedIn) to all of the professionals you interviewed with and to all previous internship connections letting them know that you are searching for an opportunity upon graduation in May 2011. Offer to meet with them in the new year on an exploratory basis. As they respond, set up appointments.

Using LinkedIn allows you to connect and invite them into your network for the future. Your LinkedIn profile needs to be ready to present as this is your social online resumé and presence. Obtain a few recommendations from previous internships and from professors. When you are in active search mode, “post and update” often with either an article you have read and want to share with your audience (LinkedIn connection) or reminding your contacts that you are graduating and seeking an opportunity.

Use this time to gain informational knowledge. Engage others in a conversation about careers. Ask them about their job, their industry and what they see for future career development. You will learn more about various companies, and most people enjoy speaking about what they do and many will enjoy the privilege of informally mentoring you. Ask your parents, family members, friends of your parents, with your parent’s permission of course, and neighbors about potential individuals they can recommend you contact for exploratory or informational meetings.

Networking is the key in this job market. Do you know any previous graduates in the training programs you have applied for that you can connect with? Ask them about the program and see if there are additional programs you may not have applied for. Speak with your University Career Center. Get to know them and let them know who you are. Ask about other companies coming on campus and contacts they may have in the field you want. Ask them to help you set up some exploratory and informational interviews. Ask about alumni at various firms that you can contact. The alumni meetings may be a great way for you to learn more and gain inside contacts so when a position opens, you may be considered.

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This is the time to explore career options. I recommend you broaden your search to include finance opportunities rather than just financial services firms.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Effective Job Search Strategies

Keep to a schedule and network in real life, advises the coach

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am in transition and find I am so busy attending meeting after meeting that I only go online after dinner. How do I figure out what is most effective for my job search and how long should this search last?

SC
Short Hills

 

When you are in transition, the first thing to do is create a weekly schedule for yourself. The hardest part of transitioning is typically the lack of routine that follows the job loss. Your schedule needs to be based on your goals.

As you think about your goals, determine what your short term and what your long term goals are. Check to see if your goals are realistic based on your current skills or do you need to refresh your knowledge or learn new skills? Your short term goal may include finding a similar position as your last one and your long term goal may involve retraining for a new industry or new career.

If your goal is to find a similar position in the same industry, then you are conducting a targeted job search. A targeted job search is focused and may require some research and much networking. Using your local library, you can use on line databases. One is ReferenceUSA (http://www.referenceusa.com) to search the industry and identify all of the possible companies within a certain geographical territory. There are many additional resources that your Research Librarian should be able to help you with.

Once you identify the targeted companies, you will need to see who is in your network that can help you tap into them. Your network consists of your family, friends, former co-workers, vendors you have worked with in the past, your church, temple and other associations and affiliations, plus on line communities you are involved with – LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

To be an effective networker, it is helpful to create openings through the online communities but the true value comes with the follow up conversation over the phone or face to face networking! When you meet someone, your persona and competence coupled with your communication style is what builds the relationship. Relationships take time to develop so see this networking activity as a long term strategy!

If your goal is twofold, find a similar role so you can pay your bills while transitioning to a new career, then you may want to conduct the targeted job search while researching other career options. One site, O’NET is created for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration (http://online.onetcenter.org). This site allows you to explore various skills sets and determine job possibilities. It also can provide you with the market range for salaries based on jobs identified within the database.

What is most effective for your job search will depend on your goals. Speaking with family or friends may help you set the goals. If not, a trained professional can help you set your goals. The weekly schedule will evolve over time. Initially, it may allocate a heavier allotment of time devoted to research. This will gradually shift to networking meetings within selected associations to help you build your networks within your current or new functional area or industry. You may choose to identify retraining options, researching scholarships or grants that may be available. This too can be research at your library. Personally, I am a huge fan of libraries and they are free!

During your job search, make sure you are out connecting with the world around you on a daily basis. It may mean a walk around the block or to the library or a networking meeting or a lecture on a topic that interest you. It is too easy to remain behind your computer for hours.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Building on the Resumé

How can you get more information out there about you beyond your resumé?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on  MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

As I linger in my job search, partially because I delayed my hunt, I find myself wondering if I am presenting properly. My resumé has been edited numerous times yet there is not much traction. Help please.

CD
Short Hills

 

Being in transition, the politically correct term for being unemployed and in the midst of a job search, can have moments of bliss and moments of anxiety. The bliss may come from having the time to explore and the choice of how to spend your day, and the anxiety may come from not having an agenda to follow or a goal to achieve.

Having your resumé ready is important whether you are in job search or not. Preparing your resumé properly is an excellent process as it forces you to examine your skills and abilities relative to the demands of the marketplace. Resumés are one element of the multimedia marketing platform required today. How you present in today’s market involves an online presence as well. When was the last time you took a snapshot view of your online reputation? Are you satisfied with it? Think about where you want to take it next.

Think about how much exposure you want and need online based on what you do or wish to pursue. If you are a in a business that requires you to be a subject matter expert, then consider blogging or write a few guest columns on the subject. If you are breaking into a new field, consider following knowledgeable individuals in that area and then pose some thoughtful questions to engage in the dialogue.

Where you choose to engage with social media is up to you. Facebook is the “like” page. LinkedIn is the Rolodex with discussions and groups for information exchange. Twitter is exposure and sharing, and blogs tend to be topic specific based on the writer’s preferences. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily if you understand what you are trying to achieve. Which platform offers you the connections you need in your job search strategy?

A resumé cannot stand alone as most hiring managers will perform Internet searches on candidates before interviewing them. Their search can influence their decision to hire or not. Carefully consider what messages you have communicated and what you want to continue to communicate in the future. Determine what platforms work best for your targeted audience. This may include in person presence as well. Attending meetings, speaking or teaching will also enhance your reputation. Reputations are built over time and consistency of the message helps.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.