I received a comment on my last entry–about my friend who recently went back to work — which I believe deserves its own topic. Here is the question as posed: “It’s just intimidating that she was getting all these calls about jobs – didn’t she have to do SOMETHING to make that happen? Otherwise I am lost – my phone never rings with job offers!”
First of all, let me say this: The number one way people get jobs is through their network, and a very high percentage of jobs comes not from your first-line network, ie. the people you communicate with regularly, but the second and third tiers. This means that you need to work hard to get that phone to ring–and it needs to be a way of life. Networking is not something to be done in your spare time; it should be a regular part of your work and social life.
There’s been a great deal written about networking’s finer points and I won’t get into the detail here. But suffice it to say that you want to be someone others think of when an opportunity arises, whether you are perfect for it or not. And if you’re not the right person, ideally you want to be helpful and recommend someone who might just be. This goes, of course, for search consultants, who always remember who was helpful (and who wasn’t). If a search consultant calls to pick your brain, it behooves you to provide as much information as you can, assuming they’re from a reputable and ideally, retained firm.
What else can you do to get noticed in your field, or in a field you are considering entering? You can blog, you can speak, you can volunteer, you can intern. You can do a “vocation vacation” and try out a new career idea. You can create or join a group on Facebook or on LinkedIn, you can call attention to your industry knowledge by asking and answering questions on these business/social networking sites. You can follow prospective employers on Twitter. There are so many ways to get noticed, and to link back to my friend and her new job, she was always doing these things because it came naturally. To others it may feel like work, but in the long run it will pay off. I’d be happy to hear other ideas on how to get noticed and get your phone to ring.