Making Real Connections is the Key to Job Search Success

It’s hard to stay engaged in your job search. But according to experts, persistence will pay off. “A lot of the fundamentals of a job search only work if you push through your discouragement and give them a chance,” says Michael Petras, executive recruiter and author of “Why Don’t They Call Me?,” “Get up early, just like you’re going to work. Take a shower, get dressed, and have a plan every day. If you continually expose yourself to other people and opportunities, you are eventually going to find something.”

Connection matters

Caroline Dowd-Higgins, career coach and author of “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” says, “It’s tempting to just do your job search from behind a computer screen, and websites like Monster and CareerBuilder are so helpful. But thousands of people are applying for those same jobs, so you’ve got to have a multi-pronged approach.

At the end of the day, people hire who they know, and who they trust.

“Experts say that 10 percent of your job search should be conducted online, and 90 percent of it should be out there in person. Go to networking events, check with your local Chamber of Commerce, join a professional organization or even a book club–just get yourself out there. Because at the end of the day, people hire who they know, and who they trust.”

Attend networking events and professional organizations, and be proactive, says Martha Finney, HR consultant and author of “Money with Meaning.” “Don’t just hang around –make yourself useful. Tap into your enthusiasm, your smarts, your energy. Volunteer for committees or the annual conference. They’ll be happy to see you, and eventually somebody will say, ‘Boy, I’d like to see that person in my office.’”

Show your worth

Dowd-Higgins agrees, “You’ve got to be your own best self-advocate in your job search. It’s not enough to describe yourself as a hard worker or a people person. At this level, that’s almost a given. You’ve got to define your skills and make yourself unique. There are millions of people out there looking for jobs, so if you can create this wonderful picture of what you do well and why you’re valuable to an organization, you’re going to stand out.”

According to Finney, you can continually enhance your value to employers even if you’re out of work. “Do project work as a freelancer. Or develop your skills and experience by volunteering for a nonprofit. If an employer sees that you care enough to donate time to something, it’s going to give you that extra sheen–and a fresh story to tell the people you’re interviewing with. It also builds up your confidence, and negates some of the negative self-talk that comes with being unemployed.”

According to Petras, one of the best ways to handle the emotional toll of unemployment is also a key to finding a job. “You need to connect with people–especially over the phone or in person–on a daily basis. You need to let everybody know that you’re looking for work. Start with childhood friends, college friends, people who go to your church–anyone who knows and trusts you. It’s human nature that people will want to help.

“A lot of people are nervous about asking for help. They isolate themselves, because they’re embarrassed that they haven’t been able to find a job. But when you talk to people, you get energy and ideas. And even if they can’t help you directly, it’s amazing how somebody knows somebody who may be able to open a door for you.”


Originally published in CareerFocus Magazine