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The Career Coach

4 Ways to Network for a Job

When to change careers? How to use your alma mater?
Job Networking Tips
Published on March 3, 2010 : 1 comment

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Our career counselor is back, answering more of your job related questions.

Read her previous mail bag to learn about finding the right career path, explaining gaps in your resume, and rejoining the workforce after the birth of a child.

Want to ask something specific? Write to Vickie here, and maybe your question will appear in the next mail bag!

1. When I’m looking for career advice, I usually just ask someone in my office, or a friend within the company. I try to pick people I respect. Is that a good strategy? Is there a chance that my boss, even though he’s successful, could they give me bad career advice? Thanks a lot, Jim (Midtown)

Hi Jim, you can never go wrong in seeking support and feedback from people you trust that have been successful in their own career. What you do want to remember, however, is to not have their advice be your only source of feedback. Other options you can explore are to contact individuals that you are not friends with but you are familiar with and have admired their business successes. You can contact them and ask them if they would have a few minutes to share with you what they have done in their career to make them as successful as they are. People love to talk about themselves and share insights-and it would also expand your network. There are also a few good books on the subject such as What Color Is Your Parachute and Soaring On Your Strengths that I highly recommend, and last but not least a great career coach is always the best resource for determining what steps to take in further developing your career. Please feel free to give me a call if you are interested in recognizing what your strengths and values are and how to take your career to the next level. I wish you all the best and happy networking!

2. What’s the best time to change careers? Rachel (North Omaha)

Hi Rachel, you ask an interesting question, especially during these challenging times of employee layoffs, company closures, and overall uncertainty in the market. There are however companies that are hiring so I don’t think it is all doom and gloom. The best time to change careers is when it feels right for you.

A few questions to ask yourself would be are you in a job or career that has no future for you (e.g. is the company closing its doors, or is the economy having an adverse effect upon your particular position). Are you excited about doing something new and challenging? Another question to ask is -what would be the financial impact if I do change? Can I afford it? If I need to go back to school what am I willing to do in order to juggle school and work. Am I open to the possibility of working part-time or even full-time in order to pay my bills.

This is a time for some deep soul searching, but I have been there and there is always a way if you are serious about taking a new direction. I went back to school at the age of 35 after a very successful career in the stock brokerage industry. I spent 5 years completing my undergradute degree and 3 years completing my masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. I also had 2 small children at home and a wonderful, loving spouse and mom to support me. Even with this type of support it was challenging at times, but if you want it bad enough you would be amazed at what you can accomplish. I also can’t stress enough that if you happen to have a spouse this is also the time to have these discussions with your spouse. because whatever you decide to do, it will also have a huge impact upon those around you. I wish you the best of luck and let me know what direction you decide to take!

3. I graduated from a school on the East Coast a few years ago, and then moved to Omaha. I’m just wondering, what’s the best way to use your alma mater to help get you a job? The career center at my school was willing to help me a lot with my resume, but when it came time to introduce me to people, I just got a lot of long lists separated by industry. No one was unfriendly, but it wasn’t like people were willing to hire me just because we graduated from the same college. How can I get more out of the fact that I went to a good school? Sharon (Midtown)

Congratulations Sharon on investing in yourself. Your degree is something you can put in your pocket and take with you no matter where you go. You can never go wrong in furthering your education. As for using the career center at your college, you need to keep in mind, that with today’s economy universities along with the public sector are all feeling the pinch of doing less with more. I am thrilled to hear that you received help on your resume but I am not surprised that the resources to help you build your network were limited. This is a time for you to reach out and begin to use those wonderful skills that you learned in school. The good news is that you have numerous levels of networking available to you. The first is your friends and family. Those who know you and adore you and would love to tell anyone they know what great strengths and talents you have.

The second level is to reach out to your past professors and ask them if -1. Would they be willing to be a reference on your resume? 2. What possible companies should you be targeting considering your major, etc.? 3. Do they know of anyone that may be hiring at this time? Professors are a great resource and they may be more plugged into the job market than you give them credit for.

The third level is to join organizations that are centered within your field. You don’t mention what your major area of interest is but you would be amazed at the number of organizations that exist for various industries. This would also be a perfect question to ask your professors as well.

The fourth level is to attend a local networking group. They are cropping up all over and may provide a few opportunities for you to connect with others, maybe not in the same field, but at least on a professional level. I would be cautious and not be quick to join because they can be pricey, but at least attend as a guest for the various groups and make your decision from there. At the very minimum you may make a few great contacts who could also become very good mentors for you. Happy Networking!

VickieVickie Seitner, Career Edge One, 402-660-6053


AnnDbugz says:

March 3, 2010 : 14 years 20 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

Thanks for sharing your expert advice! I will have to post my question in your mail bag ;-)

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