Preparation is Key to Job Hunting

Preparation is key now. I’m referring to the job market. If you haven’t done so already, start building your personal profile. And if you are disciplined then you are already planting seeds in regard to what you have to offer. This relies heavily on your network – professional, personal, live, and virtual.

Two recent writings of similar vein were in the NY Times. One is by Marci Alboher in her Shifting Careers blog called Taking the Social Networking Plunge and the other is by Alina Tugend in the Shortcuts section called When Job Hunting, Be Your Own Salesman.

I like each of these writings for their clear articulation of the situation and the explanation of what is needed. For instance, Alboher’s piece provides several instructional paragraphs on how best to use your social networking resources. Here’s an excerpt:

LinkedIn has taken hold as the standard for most professionals, but also consider spending time on sites catering to your own industry or profession. Keep up with the trade press in your field to figure out where your peers are congregating online. Specialized communities exist for just about any industry or interest group — like (for nursing professionals), Model Mayhem (for models and photographers), (for media professionals) or (for lawyers). Have a look at this excellent list of other niche social networking sites.

Though online social networking sites are newish, the same rules of old-fashioned in-person networking apply. Build your reputation as a giver, rather than as someone who is always asking for favors. If people in your network, for example, ask for help or introductions, check in periodically and respond when appropriate. If you’ve shown that you are a giver, people will rally to help you when you have a need to tap your network.

And Tugend provides the usual story of individuals out looking for jobs and leaning on their networks. But this story is ultimately about getting over hurdles – desperation breeds vulnerability and the cure is confidence. Just like the stock market recently, it is all in the head. Here are a few paragraphs of advice from Tugend:

Mr. DiNunzio said he knew that job hunting would be “frustrating and annoying, but more so than I thought it would be? No.”

In that case, he is one step ahead of a lot of people. William Wright-Swadel, executive director of career services at Duke University, said job hunters had to acknowledge first that “networking is not an easy thing. People think there’s a magic wand that will make it simple.”

The trouble is, networking brings up many of the same emotions as dating — fear of rejection, fear of looking like an idiot, fear of overstepping boundaries, fear of failing.

And even if you can overcome those anxieties, you have to know how to do it right. Networking is more than meeting and chatting with lots of people, more than swapping business cards.

“It is not enough to be very comfortable creating relationships,” Mr. Wright-Swadel said. “Networking needs to be planned and learned.”

My last piece of advice is trite but true. Be nice, or at least civil to everyone, if possible. Because the one person whose phone calls you ignored in the past may be the very person you are now asking to hire you. And if there is one thing harder than getting a job, it’s explaining to a potential boss why you acted like a jerk.


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