Author: Lavie Margolin, Career Coach
The word “network” has frustrated many of us. We all have some friends and family members who might want to help us when looking for a job but we feel that we do not know enough people (i.e. have a big enough network) in order to obtain our ideal position. Create your own network. Be in places where difference makers will be, be ready to present your skills as would be appealing to them, and follow up appropriately. An example would be attending an industry convention. Casually approaching a panel member with an ‘elevator pitch’ that captures their interest and shows your knowledge of the industry. Request a follow up meeting for an informational interview.
Remember when you stopped by your college career services office and asked how to find a job? They probably replied with some variation of the following: “Network, network, network!” If you were like me, you might have found this to be a frustrating response. Here is a practical application to building a network and then using it to get a job: While in school I interned for a niche publishing company. I had a good experience and was interested in finding a job in this field when I graduated. Unfortunately, my contacts at the company had moved on. I had been able to find the job listings for their competitor and applied on the company website regularly to no response. I liked to refer to this as ‘emails to the abyss”. For fun, I went to a public conference at the local convention center, where many movers and shakers would be present. I noticed there was an industry roundtable discussion group being held in a side hall. I went over to watch and listen. In looking closer at the forum, I realized it was moderated by the director of sales and marketing at the company. I went over after the presentation and introduced myself, even though I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I briefly explained my prior internship experience and my interest in working in his department. He explained, as expected, that I could apply through their website. I thanked him for the suggestion but inquired if I could follow up with him directly. He unenthusiastically gave me his card. I tried to reach him by phone two days later.
When I did not get a response I sent an email. In the email I summed up our conversation and emphasized my appropriate experience. He wrote back “Thanks Lavie, Sorry no jobs right now”. I inquired if I were to see a job that was a fit for me at his company if I could contact him. He wrote back, “Sure!” I saved the email and then stayed on top of the job listings via indeed.com. I waited for what I felt was a strong match to become available. I then tailored my resume specifically for that job, using industry keywords and terminology. He responded the next day that he forwarded to Human Resources and I got hired shortly thereafter. While I quickly realized the job was not for me, it is an example I have used for years to explain to clients how they can build their own network.
About the Author: Lavie Margolin is a New York-based Career Coach and the author of Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers. To learn more, go to Lavie’s website, Lion Cub Job Search:www.Lioncubjobsearch.com