These days a career rarely consists of only one job worked until retirement
and rewarded with a gold watch. No matter how secure or happy you might
feel in your current job there will come a time when you will need
to look for a new one. Sometimes, though, people ignore their most
important resource when they start the search for the next step in
their career -- their personal network of connections.
Let them know
The first action you should take when you are looking for a new job
is to inform everyone and anyone who might be able to help you find
that new job. This includes friends, relatives, former co-workers,
vendors you have worked with, almost anyone you know. You can never
tell where you next job might come from so it pays to involve everyone.
You might not think that your 3rd cousin who drives a truck for HomeGrocer.com
could have a lead on a new job, but sometimes that is exactly the case.
Perhaps they have heard of an opening in their company, a friend’s
company or at one of their client’s companies. Letting everyone
know you are looking is just one way to multiply the opportunities
you will find. Not every lead will pan out, but imagine the variety
of positions and companies to which you will be exposed.
Of course, if you are looking for a new job before you leave your old
one some sensitivity is in order. You probably don’t want your
current employer to know that you are looking as they will sometimes
simply fire you before you are ready to leave. If you have good friends
at the company you may want to refrain from telling them, as well.
Sharing your plans can put your friends in an awkward and uncomfortable
situation. You will want to think very carefully before placing such
a burden on them.
Do not use any company resources to get word out of your availability.
Send all email from home or a friends computer. Don’t use the
copy machine and certainly don’t use an office telephone where
you might be overheard. Abuse in any of these areas is a sure way to
generate bad feelings between you and your current employer when you
hand in your resignation. It pays to be fanatical about these issues
as you might want or need a good reference from your current employers
to add to your portfolio. There is no need to burn bridges even if
you have outgrown your current job. It is even possible that your employers
connections could be the source of leads for your new job.
Pass the ammunition
When you reach out to others for help in your job search it is important
that you give them easy access to your resume, references, portfolio
and any other information they can use in their recommendation. You
might give your friends resumes that they can easily pass on to anyone
who might be interested. You could also put your information on a
web site. This allows interested employers to visit directly or
can simply print out the information for the less technically savvy
The minimum information you need is a letter of introduction, something
explaining who you are and what type of position you would prefer.
Next comes the traditional detailed resume showing your job experience. (See Resumes,
ComputorEdge February 1999, for further info). Finally, there
should be a portfolio consisting of recommendation
letters, examples of your work, detailed descriptions of particularly
interesting projects on which you have worked and any other information
which might help a prospective employer know you better.
The more ammunition you give people, the better leads they will be
able to generate. Your friends can put people directly in contact
with your information by passing on a web URL or a small packet
you have already given them. Make it as easy as possible for people
to recommend you and you will be amazed with the results.
The next time you are looking for that next step in your career instead
of hitting the want ads, try working your own personal network first.
You will see results much more quickly and the quality of your job
leads will increase dramatically. Word of mouth is an important part
of selling any product. When you are the product being sold make
sure that it is as easy as possible for people to spread the good
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