So you say you’d rather have a root canal than engage in job search networking? Then you’re probably looking at networking from the wrong angle!
As I said a couple of posts ago, networking represents a key element of successful job searching and career management. Also, of course, it’s not just a “when I’m in job-search mode” activity, but rather, something you need to do more consistently than that. The question then becomes, “What’s holding you back? What’s really behind your foot-dragging reluctance to network?”
Job Search Networking is NOT Rocket Science
Folks, if you’re thinking of networking as something that only an expert can do effectively, think again. You don’t need a PhD in Networking to do it and do it well. What you do need is the willingness to try and to keep refining how you do it so that it works best for you. By “works best,” I mean that you will actually DO it consistently and that it’s as productive as you can make it for your purposes.
I should note that there are a gazillion books and articles on networking–how to do or not do it, and more. You might get confused if you read too many of them, since in all probability they’ll eventually contradict each other! Try to keep your approach simple.
Networking Doesn’t Have to be a Drudgery
You might agree that a PhD in Networking isn’t necessary, but maybe you still feel that networking is just too hard to get a handle on, too much work, etc., for you to make it a part of your job search action plan. Wrong!
Like anything else worth doing, job search networking does take at least some effort if you’re going to see the results you want. That doesn’t mean it’s drudgery, to be avoided at all costs. Here’s what Ask The Headhunter’s Nick Corcodillos had to say about it in a recent blog post: “Go where professionals gather. Ask them about their work. Make friends. Anybody can do this.”
The blog post this quote was excerpted from makes for some great reading. I highly recommend that you check out “How to Engineer Your Network.” The engineer whose remarks are shared in the blog post makes some very pointed comments about companies that totally fail to acknowledge job seekers after one or more interviews. As you might expect if you’re familiar with Nick’s work, his comments on the situation take no prisoners!
Networking or Watching the Ball Game (or Ballet)
Sometimes you have to make hard choices in deciding how you spend your time. If you’re in the middle of a job search, you might actually need to cut back on a few other activities you would normally engage in. That’s not to say that you can’t maintain some variety in your activities; in fact, doing so is a good idea, because it helps you maintain a sense of balance and allows you to anticipate rewards for “good behavior.”
At the same time, you need to stay focused on the desired end-result; that is, finding and landing your next great job. Give your job search networking the attention and respect it deserves. You’ll be glad you did–I firmly believe that. It will help you achieve the interviews that lead to offers more quickly and less painfully than if you hold back.
In terms of your ongoing career success, it’s great to look back over the past–just don’t live there. At this time of year, when so many people are preparing to wind some things down and get ready for the new year, you might want to take a look at what has gone right for you this year and what hasn’t. That’s fine. A periodic career review can provide beneficial insights that enable you to move forward. But your next step should be to think about what that means for the coming year and jettison anything that doesn’t have potential to be useful for your career advancement in the future.
In other words, don’t carry excess baggage into the new year. When you take too much baggage on an airplane, you get dinged $$$ for the excess. With regard to your career, hanging on to memories or experiences that won’t help you progress brings its own penalty. It can keep you focused on the wrong aspects of your career and stall or derail your advancement.
Set Goals, Not New Year’s Resolutions
Resolution: “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”
Goal: “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.”
What I noticed about the definition of “resolution” was that it refers to a decision, not a plan of action, although it’s described as a firm decision. On the other hand, the definition of “goal” indicates that effort is being expended toward the target outcome. That suggests that one possible reason so many New Year’s resolutions fail is that there was no plan and no accompanying effort to achieve them.
What does this mean for you and your year-end career review? For starters, you can focus more on setting goals and matching those with the actions needed to help you get there and less on the “I would love to be [whatever your desired outcome is] next year” (aka wishful thinking, which sometimes masquerades as a resolution).
Career Progress Through Change, Not Chance
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” (Jim Rohn)
While you’re engaged in your year-end career review, you might want to keep Rohn’s quote in mind. If you fall into the trap of living in the past and hoping something will happen to make the next year better, you’re counting on chance, which at best provides uncertain support. Instead, you can create a vision that builds challenging but achievable goals into the picture and develop an action plan to change whatever you have determined needs to change in order for you to achieve real, sustainable career progress.
Now that’s worth doing!
Based on what we have been seeing over the past year–and more–job search in 2013 will not be for the faint of heart. If you want or need to plan and conduct a job search next year, you will need to have several things, not the least of which is enough determination to overcome the numerous obstacles that could and possibly will pop up to block your path to a new job or career.
To quote Mr. William Shakespeare: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” In colloquial terms, you can’t complete the dash for home plate if you never even get to first base. And, as Sydney J. Harris (an American journalist for the Chicago Daily News and later the Chicago Sun-Times, who died in 1986) tells us: “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”
Job Search 2013: Borrow Nike’s Slogan and “Do It”
I recently read a thought-provoking book by Peter McWilliams called Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts. In fact, that’s where I first saw the quote from Mr. Harris. It’s the kind of book you need to read and then re-read–at least once or twice–to get the full benefit. Also, it probably makes the book more effective if you do the exercises it provides. I have to confess, I haven’t done that yet; however, I initially read the book for pleasure, rather than as part of an action plan for self-improvement. However, I do want to share McWilliams’ view of what constitutes a career: “You have a career or profession when what you love doing most is what you also get paid for doing.” That’s how I feel about the work I do with and for my clients, and it’s how I sincerely want them to feel about the work they do for current and future employers.
Countless obstacles could stand in your way to a successful job search or career in 2013. No one promised the search would be easy–or if someone did, he/she was deceiving you, either intentionally or unintentionally. However, you can’t afford to let obstacles intimidate you into spinning your wheels or backpedaling, if achieving your goal is essential to your well-being–emotionally, physically, professionally or all of the above.
5 Job Search Tips for 2013
- Outline a plan that will have you up-and-running by January 1 (if not before).
- Build flexibility into your plan–remember that obstacles can crop up unexpectedly.
- Marshal your job search resources–people, time, money, whatever else you might need. If you don’t have all your ducks lined up yet, start working on that now.
- Take a quick look backward (over this past year) to see where you veered off track, slipped up in some way or otherwise didn’t make the progress you had aimed for. Use that quick review as a launchpad for your 2013 planning–starting with what needs to change and when.
- Allow yourself opportunities to recharge your batteries between now and the end of the year–quiet time with family, a trip you’ve been putting off, a good book you want to read or a movie you’ve been waiting to see, whatever will rejuvenate your energy and strengthen your ability to surmount any obstacles you encounter in your job search 2013 activities.
My Wish for Your Job Search 2013 Success
Actually, it’s more than a wish. It’s an affirmation. I believe you can do much more than you think you can, even if you don’t always see a clear path at the start. Give yourself credit for that…and don’t give up if the going gets rough. Persistence can pay off when you least expect it.
Recently I asked this question–Got the Job Offer: Now What? As you undoubtedly know, even when you accept an offer, that represents only the first step in your progress toward establishing a record of success in that position. You basically have a two-part process: short-term and long-term. Both parts need careful attention if you expect to keep moving forward in the right direction.
Short-term “Got the Job” Steps:
A few steps are critical to meet expectations facing you; others might be nice to do but not so critical. The following are just a few of the critical steps:
- If you haven’t already done so (you should have, if possible), get acquainted with not only those who will report to you (if any) and those to whom you will report, but also your peers in various parts of the company. One way to avoid stepping on an on-the-job landmine is to become knowledgeable about your territory and the other players as soon as possible.
- Make sure you know the short-term goals your boss has in mind for you and your group (again, this ideally should have been done before you accepted the offer, but now is better than later). Begin scoping out the most urgent challenges connected with achieving those goals. Look at them also in terms of how they are likely to fit in with the longer-term goals (more on that in a minute), so you aren’t proceeding in a haphazard manner that could cause disaster.
- Identify the resources you will need to achieve the short-term goals and where those resources exist. If a resource isn’t readily available, start working on finding out where you can tap into it.
Long-term “Got the Job” Steps:
Success in your new job is somewhat like trying to hit a moving target. You can never really say, “I’ve made it! Now I can coast or rest on my laurels.” As with the short-term steps, this stage of your progress depends on taking well-thought-out action on a consistent basis, including the following steps:
- You probably know already that your boss expects you to have an action plan covering more than just the next few months. If that expectation hasn’t been clearly stated, it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting with your boss to clarify it and ensure that any actions you decide to take will support his or her expectations. Waiting until your first review to find out that you’ve missed the target is a bad idea!
- Look at the current situation, probable near-term events and possible trends that might be emerging in your company, industry, and so on. Assess those as realistically as you can and take them into account when doing your strategic, long-range planning. It’s impossible to know everything, but being aware of potential roadblocks ahead of time is much better than having them smack you in the face.
- Begin networking within your organization just as you would to land a new job. The more key relationships you can establish internally, the better your prospects should be within the organization in terms of potential career opportunities. At the same time, pay careful attention to pivotal relationships outside your company–existing and potential customers, vendors and partners. Remember: Your next career move could be out rather than up.
Find or Create Opportunities for Career Success
On rare occasions, a good opportunity might seem to just fall into your lap. However, there’s usually a way to trace that back to something you did or didn’t do earlier. Keep that in mind and watch for promising opportunities by seeing potential that others overlook and turning that potential into a resounding success story.