Go where you are most needed – Podcast
I was talking to one of our cousins in Sicily recently and he was bemoaning a very common problem. He recently graduated with a Masters in Science (Laurea Specialistica) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Like many, he is looking for his first “real” job in his field and he has run headlong into the old conundrum of “connections.” Simply put, he doesn’t have any and it seems that getting any good job requires them. While the problem might be especially acute in Italy, it exists everywhere. For a job seeker, it can seem like all doors are closed just when you need an open door the most.
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I won’t deny that many jobs are filled using “connections” no matter where you might live. People have obligations to others and one way they can fulfill those obligations is providing jobs for family members and friends who need them. That said, I believe that there are many more jobs available that don’t require “connections”, but you need to look deeper for them. In some cases, you may find that these jobs, free to be filled from qualified candidates and not “obligations” can be better places to begin your career than those with fancier titles and higher salaries at well known companies.
If you consider yourself without connections, you need to start your job search with those companies that need you most — not those with the most recognizable name, the biggest headquarters or the most prestige. You need to start your search right in your own backyard. In some cases, there might be small or mid-sized companies in your city that are desperate for someone with your skills. Because of their size, they might not be able to attract the highest quality of candidates. You could find yourself in the very best position of being in the right place at the right time.
Even better, finding a great position in a small company could mean you have a much better job. In smaller companies you are given much more responsibility much more quickly. Due to lack of competition, and the fact that you work closely with the principals of your company, you can better demonstrate your skills and move up quickly. In larger companies, most entry level employees are given less important, routine tasks and are often hidden from the sight of the most important people in the company. For me, it is far better to have a big job at a small company than a small job at a big company.
This is not to say you ignore the larger companies entirely, only that you don’t put all your eggs into that basket. If opportunities present themselves, take advantage of them, of course. Just don’t depend on them or put other efforts on hold while you wait out the usually long hiring process.
Build your own connections
The next step is to make your own connections. In fact, this is a lifelong process and something you have hopefully started while in school. Stay in touch with classmates that you like and respect. Stay connected in person and via social media. Even better, connect them to each other. Be the hub that connects them all and you will be at the center of a very important career web. Help others find work and, in most cases, they will gladly help you. Those people with connections gained them in many ways and there is no reason you can’t develop your own connections over time. Even better, these connections you build yourself will be more meaningful, stronger and more reliable than those connections based on “obligations.” These connections will be the backbone of your career for the rest of your life and you should never stop developing them.
Tell people what you do and how well you do it
One important part of this job market is to bypass the typical hiring practices of companies by making companies and recruiters come to you. You need to tell all your connections, what you you do and how well you do it. You need to write blog posts, engage in online discussions, develop your own projects, write your own whitepapers and more. Anything you can do to make your work visible to others will be of great benefit to your job search. I believe that in today’s job market, there is no way that a single page resume could ever represent your skills. Reach out to the new tools at your disposal and make the case why someone should hire you. Do everything you can to attract work to you instead of constantly going out looking for work.
Don’t let the seemingly required connections stall your job search, even if you are just starting out. Look for work where others do not. Think small to build a bigger career. Build your own connections and, most importantly, demonstrate your skills at every opportunity. These are very important ways to build the career you deserve in the 21st Century.