This past week the national unemployment rate reached 7.5% and while Washington is working on a Stimulus Package - many who are out of work are wondering "When am I going to feel the effects of this Stimulus Package; and what am I supposed to be doing to keep my career and finances afloat in these turbulent times?" There is no quick fix solution; however I can share with you what people who are conducting successful job searches are doing to make it happen.
Having a great resume is, of course, important; it is a crucial marketing document that defines who you are and what sets you apart from the competition. Yet far, far too many job seekers focus their efforts on blindly submitting their resume to job postings; and with very limited results. It is impersonal and easy to hide behind, and a strategy that often does not work on it's own.
What you ought concentrate on is making contact with real people in your network - this is how successful people are finding jobs!
During a job search, make at least three contacts every day. Really. Whether it's social networking, online or face to face; with people you know or people you don't - cultivating your network is the single most effective way to get results.
So, why do so many job seekers hide behind blindly submitting resumes? People in general have a misconception when it comes to talking to people in their network. Some feel it shows a sign of weakness, while others believe it is awkward or inappropriate to get in touch with people from their past. Work up the courage up to reach out. 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.
Being in contact with people is genuinely engaging when you remember it's just talking to people and building relationship with no agenda. Each contact is not a cartoon pork shop to be desperately frothed after, but an interesting conversation about what you're up to and what they're up to.
So how do you develop a personal network? Start with your family and friends. Share with them what you're looking for, and ask them to introduce you to people they think it may be useful for you to connect with. Next, speak with people you know socially. Speak with your doctor, your lawyer, and your accountant. They are easy to approach and would love to help you. Find friends from your past and reconnect. Find people you went to college with, high-school, 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. When you get over any fear about diving in this can actually be great fun - and shockingly fruitful.
Then reacquaint yourself with old business and social contacts. Touch base with prior bosses and co-workers. 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.
Reach out to friends of friends and get to know them. Join networking groups online and around the city to meet people in the industry you're in and expand your network.
During a job search, carve out dedicated time each day to making contacts with 3 new people from your life.
1. Find out how they are doing; and be genuinely interested.
2. Then share:
----a. how you're doing
----b. succinctly what you're looking for (major hint: practice this so you are clear and specific about just what you are looking for!)
----c. and make sure to ask the open ended question "who else do they know that may be good for you to speak with". (missing this question, or asking the closed question of "do you know of anyone/anything" misses the mark by a mile)
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.
People doing this and putting in patient effort ARE FINDING JOBS, even in this economy.
This article is co-written by Perry Newman, CPC who is President/CEO of Fist Impressions Resumes in Brooklyn, and has over 30 years experience as a resume writer, career coach and executive recruiter.