Networking Groups – Starting Your Own Can Help Your Job Search

For the first time in a long time I am working with clients who have been out of the job search market for many years, some for as long as 20 years. That's not to say they haven't changed jobs in that long, but in some cases they were recruited out of their previous job or "fell" into their next job. The job hunting experience today is significantly different than it was 5 or 10 years ago. So, for those making their first foray in many years into job search and even for those people who are more familiar with the process, here are a few tips to help you on your way.

1. Identify what skills and talents you have that differentiate you from all those who are out there competing for similar jobs. In other words, create a personal brand. Look at the Internet and focus on some of the characteristics that employers are asking for. How can you work those traits into your personal brand?

2. Make sure your resume reflects your best features, your personal brand. This resume has to answer the questions any employer reviewing it would ask such as, why should I hire you and can you do the job? Based on the amount of experience you have you should use the resume that maximizes your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses. For example if you feel that age or too much job hopping might be a consideration, consider a functional resume as opposed to a chronological one. Remember, one resume does not fit all jobs.

3. Although 70% of most jobs are found through the unpublished job market, you should ensure that you have exhausted the published market, which includes job websites, company websites, and recruiters. These sites provide excellent research into what skills companies are looking for and how much they pay for those skills.

4. The unpublished market, though difficult to define, includes researching companies and keeping abreast of the industry. By knowing what the latest trends are you can identify which companies might be growing and in what areas. Networking is probably the number one method in finding a new job. By contacting everyone in your circle of friends and family, business associates, alumni, trade associations, and even people you meet through social events you are increasing the number of referrals you are likely to get. Networking, when done properly, is the best form of self promotion you can do.

5. Before you take that first interview, whether it's an informational meeting or a job interview, practice answers to a variety of questions. Any answers you give should be highlighting your strengths and illustrating how these strengths have enabled you to be successful. I don't recommend memorizing anything, but you should be able to pick from 8-10 stories that you have developed that can each answer several typical interview questions.

6. Finding a job can be a full time job and should be if you are unemployed. At the same time make sure you build in leisure time, time spent doing something you love. This type of activity can have the same effect as a mini vacation - it clears your head and allows new ideas to bubble to the surface.

Good luck with your search.

In a time when so many people are looking for jobs networking groups are popular once again and are a great help in your search. Back in the dot com boom days these networking groups were everywhere. You may have been a part of several or at least asked to join. In those days these groups were not looking for jobs but rather referrals to make money. Everyone was counted on to bring referrals to the group and some networking groups even kept count of how well you did in that department. People who were all take and no give were often shown the door. Today these groups are popular again but it is a different kind of referral people are looking for.
Do you know of a job in ____ field? Filling in those blanks and getting answers is the new life of networking groups across the country. There are plenty in existence and if you are inclined to do so we’ll talk about starting your own. A networking group is a long name for what is simply a group of people all with the same goal who are willing to help each other get there. Do you know people like that? For many the answer might be just a few, but if you were to start making a list of everyone you knew that might possibly be a good connector (Someone who can connect you with someone else you need to know.) you might be surprised at how long that list can get.
Every person needs a connector in their life and most people have one and may not even know it. That person who seems to have their hands in a little bit of everything and knows more people than most of us would have time for. This is the type of person you would ideally start off your new group with. They do not have to be out of work and looking for a job because this person gets their fulfillment from using their connections to help others. The connector is the quarterback of your team. You may be the coach and the one putting together the game plan but this is the person you want calling the plays.
With your connector in hand along with a list of all the people you know begin by asking for people who might be interested in starting a new group. To appeal to just more than job seekers, why not make it for both people looking for jobs and people looking for referrals for possible clients? It’s better to have a group of diverse people (not all out of work) that can cross reference the people they know to help.