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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Look to the fringe for the next step in your career

Look to the fringe for the next step in your career

July 23rd, 2010

Career Opportunities podcast logoAs many of you know already, when looking for your first job, your next job or the next step in your career, a direct, frontal attack is only one approach. Sure answering job postings, submitting resumes and taking interviews will always be with us, but I believe they can only take us so far. In a good hiring environment, these methods are fairly productive, but in harsh job hunting environment, such as the one we have now, they can leave us frustrated and morose. Silence is often the only response to resumes and applications these days. If your job search is stalled, it is time to take things to a new level — and in a new direction. It is time to look to the fringes, away from everyone else, and see what they might have to offer. You shouldn’t stop your traditional job search, but you need to start trying some more innovative approaches to finding a job.

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First, hang out! Now I am not necessarily suggesting that you start spending all your time at the local coffeehouse or bar (although that can also be one job search method in itself), you do need to “hang out” with those people who might have information, or even a job, to offer. If you are looking for a job in computer game development, find out where all the game geeks hang out and do the same. Starting your own business? Find out where all the entrepreneurs hang out in your town. This might be a place like a bar or coffeehouse or a club that meets each month, or even just a few friends who get together to talk things over.

You can hang out both in person and online, too. Look for forums where like-minded people hang out and discuss the issues of their business or careers. Every social media site has groups dedicated to specific interests and you would be well advised to join up and see what is happening there. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have extensive groups. Don’t find a group based around your interests? — Start one.

I started thinking about this fringe idea when we attended a recent concert by the LA Lawyers Philharmonic. I had never heard of the group, but we have friends who work with them and they were able to pass along some tickets. Here is how they describe themselves…

The Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic is the orchestra where lawyers, judges, law students and legal staff meet in harmony. The members include conservatory graduates, professional musicians and some hobbyists who are dusting off instruments they played in their youth. It is the music that prevails. Consisting of more than 50 musicians, the orchestra performs on a professional level for bar associations, civic and charitable events.

My wife was quick to point out what a great idea this was, but along lines far outside their music performances. If you were a law student or someone looking to move up in the legal profession, consider what a great idea it would be to “hang out” with lawyers, judges and legal staff on a weekly basis. One the surface, you are there to play music together, but underneath, you are also exposing yourself to people who might be looking for that new associate, new assistant, new law clerk for their office. Instead of spending hours with resumes and phone calls, you put yourself in a place where there is a constant flow of information, camaraderie and, most importantly, job opportunities.

Now, there might not be an LA Lawyers Philharmonic in your town, but surely there are groups, both formal and informal, where you can be among those who are already doing the work you would like to do. Seek them out and cultivate these “fringe” relationships. During times like these, I think that it is here you will find the most productive use of your job search time.

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