I was on the phone with a confident, articulate, and motivated young woman named Sasha, who’d been job searching off and on for the last year. She wanted to move to a new position that entailed more responsibility and challenge. Having just completed her Masters degree in May, she was ready to begin job searching in earnest.
Similar to many job seekers Sasha wasn’t embarking on just a job search. She was embarking on ‘the dreaded job search’. Frustration, disappointment, and the tedium of completing job applications after work made the prospect of looking for a new job a chore.
As I listened to Sasha I tried to figure out how I could be most helpful to her. I poked around, asking Sasha questions, looking for any places where she might be getting stuck or need more clarity. I came up with nada. She didn’t have any glaring hangups or blocks. She knew what she wanted. She felt confident she could get it. Her attitude around her job search may not have been all sunshine and flowers, but it wasn’t so bad that she had stalled out completely. She was still sending in job applications, had even sent one in just before our call.
So in a decidedly unsophisticated coaching moment I asked, “Have you ever tried networking?”
“No, not really,” Sasha replied.
“Well, here’s the thing. I’ve been talking to you for a little bit now. And you come off really well. I can feel your eagerness to work hard, know that you’re a team player, and am impressed by how well spoken you are.”
“Oh,” Sasha said, sounding pleased. “I am pretty outgoing.”
“Yeah, so perhaps what would help you the most would be to try a different job search strategy. One that plays to your strength of talking with people instead of using the more impersonal online applications.”
“Networking often feels so forced and awkward though,” she countered. “I once went to an event where we moved around the room, talking to each person for thirty seconds. Guess how many of those people I’m still in touch with?”
I laughed. “Yeah, that kind of networking doesn’t sound too helpful. When networking is done well it’s more about building and utilizing relationships. One place to start is with people you already know. You could ask them if they know anybody who works in the field you’re interested in moving into. If they do, you could set up a time to talk with that person. By doing this you expand your network and give potential employers a sense of who you are in person. Would you feel comfortable doing that?”
“It wouldn’t be a problem for me. And I have heard a lot of stories of people getting jobs through networking,” Sasha said, considering. “I just never thought about it before. It didn’t occur to me that I could be doing it too.”
Hopefully adding this additional strategy to Sasha’s job search process will pay off for her. Good luck S.!
How about you- do you utilize your network during a job search?
*Name and identifying details have been changed. Case study printed with permission of the participant.