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Job search got you down? Keep on networking

Kelli K. Nicholas

Kelli K. Nicholas

By KELLI K. NICHOLAS, Marketing Coordinator — Michigan Works!

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!
–Rocky Balboa

Sometimes the longer you are job searching without any luck, the more you feel like a prizefighter in the ring. The rejection letters feel like a punch along the jawline. When the phone doesn’t ring, it’s a blow to your confidence that stings like a cut above the eye.

Sometimes you wonder – can you stand up in your corner for the next round? Can you pull yourself up off the canvas if you get another left-right combination of unreturned calls and non-committal “we’ll keep your resume on file” answers to your phone calls?

It is times like these when job seekers need someone in their corner – someone who still believes in your effort to stay in the job-seeking ring. Your best “trainer/manager” comes from networking — developing relationships with people you know well and people you get through referrals.

MidMichiganCareerOutlookAn old analogy of networking is ABC:
A: People you already know who are able to help you make the connections to the
B: Bridge people who have the established contacts with the
C: Can-hire people

A good place to start is developing a list of all of your contacts. Yes, that means writing down names and phone numbers of everyone you know from the person who cuts your hair, the daycare provider, your child’s teacher, the mechanic who changes your oil, to your neighbors, to past employers and everyone you know in between. You may be surprised how long your list actually is.

But, then, your goal is to contact each person asking for advice on your job search – and not asking if where they work is hiring. You want to request a short 15-minute meeting to discuss your current job search strategy and skills. You want to ask their advice on how they found employment and what types of skills their job demands. At the meeting, you want to bring along your resume and portfolio to ask their thoughts on how you are conducting your search, what skills you may have, or may be lacking, for your desired job and to ask for referrals of people they know who may be able to share additional advice.

The information you gather is priceless to create a successful job search plan. You will learn about industry trends, local businesses – real (yup, this is the buzzword) “inside information.”

Always send a thank-you letter after each meeting stating how much you appreciated their time, advice and how you are going to follow up with any contact names they provided. And, believe this – in our electronic age – that thank-you note will carry more clout if it’s hand written!

Research has proven that 80 percent of the jobs available are discovered in the hidden market – discovered while networking — and only 20 percent of the available jobs are in the known market. Those are the openings that are advertised in common arenas such as newspaper’s classified sections or posted on job boards.

An internship is one way of obtaining materials for a portfolio. In past articles, I have emphasized the importance of gaining skills from a mentor. As an extension of that advice offered here, I am willing to extend such an opportunity to a current Mid Michigan Community College student. I am offering up to 20 hours a week this semester to work in my office assisting with a grant project involving event planning, research, database management, social media updates, public relations and office administration. There will be an opportunity to earn some money while expanding your network circle. If you’re interested, you can email a resume to me at knicholas@michworks4u.org.

(Mid Michigan Career Outlook is a regular monthly feature of The Laker Current.)

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