Your Way to Work
By C.J. Hayden, MCC
When Cookie Burkhalter relocated from Colorado
to Wilmington, Delaware three years ago, she
thought finding a new job would be easy. With
first-rate qualifications and more than twenty
years of professional experience at Fortune
500 companies, she figured she would land
a new position quickly by surfing a few Internet
job boards and sending out her résumé.
But Burkhalter, an IT project manager, quickly
discovered that it wasn't going to be so easy.
After months of applying for open positions,
"I never got a single interview from
a posting on the Net," she declared.
"Applying for all those jobs was a complete
waste of my time."
When things began to turn around for Burkhalter
was when she realized that the missing element
in her job search was the human factor. "Even
though I grew up in Delaware, I had been living
out of state for a long time," she recalled.
"I had almost no local contacts, so I
was relying on postings and ads to find out
about available jobs. But by the time I saw
the ad, so had thousands of other people,
and there was always one of them who was just
a little more qualified than me."
Personal Connections Are the Key to Finding
So Burkhalter set about rebuilding her personal
network. She joined two women's groups made
up of others who shared some of her personal
interests and hobbies, and began to meet new
people. When she let her new friends know
about her job search, all of a sudden, she
began to hear about jobs before they were
advertised, and interviews started to materialize.
When she finally did land a new job, it was
the direct result of a referral from a friend.
You may not recognize what Burkhalter did
as networking, but that's exactly what it
was. Many women think of networking as circulating
around a room exchanging business cards. But
a broader view of networking is creating a
pool of contacts from which you can draw leads,
referrals, ideas, and information for your
job search. You can network without ever attending
an official networking event.
Texas resident Maria Elena Duron found an
executive job as a result of working as a
community volunteer. "I was volunteering
at the Midlands MexTex Fiesta, and I found
myself flipping burgers side-by-side with
a board member of the Austin Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation," Duron remembers.
"He asked me if I had ever been involved
in fundraising, and when I said I had, he
asked for my résumé. He forwarded
it to the Foundation with his personal recommendation,
and three weeks later I was hired as Executive
Director for the West Texas Region."
Your career network can and should contain
current and former co-workers, alumni from your
school, a wide range of people in your industry,
and personal friends. Making time for lunch
or coffee with these people can be much more
productive for your job search than reading
the want ads or surfing the web. In fact, surveys
consistently show that 80-85% of job-seekers
find work as the result of a referral from a
friend or colleague, and only 2-4% land jobs
from Internet job boards.
If you have been out of touch for a while with
people you already know, don't let that stop
you from re-establishing contact when you start
your job search. Everyone you speak to will
have had to look for work at some point in their
career, and most of them will be sympathetic
To spread your net even wider, you may need
to start making the acquaintance of new people
also. Every time you talk to a friend or colleague
about your job search, ask for suggestions of
other you might speak to, and follow up on their
Attending organized events may also play a role
in your job search, since this can be an easy
way to expand your network quickly. Here are
some popular choices for networking events:
Chamber of Commerce mixers
Service clubs such as Rotary and Kiwanis
Trade and professional association meetings
in your industry
Lectures, workshops, conferences, and fundraisers
hosted by educational institutions, community
organizations, and affinity groups
Social, cultural, and sporting events that
include receptions or other mix-and-mingle
Private gatherings organized for the purpose
of meeting new people and schmoozing
You will have more success at this kind of
networking if you go back to the same groups
over and over than if you keep going to new
groups all the time. Find two or three that
seem to have the right mix of people, and keep
If you don't follow up with the people you meet,
though, you are wasting your time in meeting
them. You may think that once you have told
someone what type of job you are looking for,
if they hear of something, they will call you.
The truth is that if they have met you only
once, they probably don't even remember you,
and it's even less likely that they will remember
where they put your number.
After meeting someone new, send them a "nice-to-meet-you"
note and invite them to attend another event
with you or make a date for lunch or coffee.
Find out what the two of you have in common,
and see if there is an activity you could share.
Building relationships likes this takes time
and effort, but relationships are the core of
networking. The people in your network should
be people you truly enjoy interacting with,
because if you're doing it right, you'll be
spending a lot of time with them.
Says Duron, "Don't limit yourself to just
networking in your industry; everyone is interconnected.
Getting to know a day care director makes sense
even if you don't want a job in day care, because
she knows so many people. Waiters and hairdressers
are often the first to hear about coming changes
that lead to open positions. As long as you
have your antennae out and listen, you can connect
Don't expect networking to be a quick fix for
your job search. It can take time for your relationship-building
efforts to pay off. You need to put in the effort
to get to know people, and trust that you will
see results from it. But the best time to begin
building your network is while you are still
C.J. Hayden is the author of
Get Hired Now! and Get Clients Now! Since 1992,
she has helped thousands of professionals make
a better living doing what they love. C.J. is
a Master Certified Coach who leads workshops
internationally - in person, on the phone, and
on the web. Find out more about C.J. and get
a free copy of "How to Find a Job in 28
Days or Less" at http://www.gethirednow.com