You know that when it comes to looking for a job, networking can be one of your best tools. Spreading the word, talking to people, putting out feelers- all of these terms relate to letting others know your intentions in the hopes that someone will know of position that is perfect for you. Family, friends, neighbors, classmates, just about anyone can be a networking contact and therein lays the danger.
The adage ‘Discretion is the better part of valor’ has bearing in the job search market as well. In our earnest efforts to find a job, the news may sometimes fall on ears we’d rather it didn’t. We might also make the mistake of thinking someone is more in our corner than they actually are. How can this hurt us?
Confidentiality is important. Protecting your privacy is just as important as getting the word out. Who you confide in becomes extremely important. Real professionals will not pry too deeply into your reasons or personal life and will help you with little cause for concern. When you start talking to people who feel as if they have a stake in your personal life, they might start to ask questions you’d rather not answer: why are you changing jobs? How much money do you make now? Are there personal reasons for such a change? These questions can be intrusive. Because you feel you need their help and you don’t want to offend them, you may feel compelled to share information you otherwise might not. If the person is not already a trusted contact, your personal information could become common knowledge.
Information could get back to your current employer who may think too kindly of you trying to better your situation, especially if you haven’t talked to him yourself. Having your boss know your intentions can be awkward. If no new job materializes and you are forced to stay put, the situation could become uncomfortable and hard feelings might arise. There is also the possibility that because your intentions to leave are known that you could be passed over for promotions and such.
Another drawback to networking is the waiting. When you apply for a specific job, you generally know within a few weeks or months if the position has been filled. With networking, you have to wait for others to learn of a position. They have to remember to tell you about it. You have to nurture the relationship without making yourself too much of a pest. It is a delicate balancing act.
The advantages of networking far outweigh the disadvantages but you will do well to be aware of both.
When you hear the word “networking” today, you think of something related to computers like a series of computers linked together in an office or like the social networking so many of us do on the internet in places like Twitter and Facebook. But networking was around long before computers took over our lives. Remember the old saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know?” That was and is networking.
Networking is developing contacts so that both parties receive some kind of benefit from the relationship. This can happen at business meetings, conventions, the doctor’s office or the grocery store. Depending on the type of contacts you are looking for, whether it is for a job or new customers for a job you already have, any chance meeting can be an opportunity to network.
Carry your business card with you at all times. If you carry a brief case, keep a current copy of your resume on hand. Carry any flyers or brochures in your briefcase. If you are attending a meeting, wear a name badge that easily identifies you. Most importantly, have your pitch prepared. If you’re drumming up new business, you’ll need a pitch for potential customers. You can use this in a business setting or while talking to the other moms waiting to pick up their kids from soccer practice but you can’t use it if you don’t have it prepared.
Set a Goal
When you attend an event, know ahead of time what you want to achieve. If you are attending a job fair, determine ahead of time how many recruiters or specific types of employers you want to make contact with. Outline how many potential new customers you want to find at the open house. Having a goal keeps you focused and on track.
Establish Yourself as Helpful
People gravitate to positive, friendly and helpful people. If you are generous with your time, your words and information, people will see you as helpful and more importantly, they will remember you. At an event, act as a hostess, making sure people’s needs are met. You can accomplish this by bringing others together, the key to networking. Even if they can’t give you a job right now or aren’t interested in your product line, they will remember you because you put them in touch with someone who could help them. People don’t like someone they see as a taker or user. Establish your good intentions and helpful ways and it will go a long way in forming the kinds of relationships that can prove supportive.
Networking can be one of the best resources a working mom develops. Whether you need advice on parenting, dating as a single parent and especially when trying to find a job, networking with other single parents can reap untold benefits.
Job Search Sites
There are thousands of websites dedicated to helping single parents navigate life and the web. Wading through them all can be tedious. If you are looking for a job, focus on those that help single parents find jobs like ASingleParents.com. Aside from the usual chat groups and forums where you can ask questions, there is a link to Job.com, a useful website for job-searching. It provides assistance with resume preparation, delivers weekly listings of available jobs in fields you’ve selected to your email inbox and allows one-click application process for many of the jobs listed there. Other reputable job search sites include Career Builder and Monster.com
There is no telling where a job lead might come from. Talk to everyone you know. Church groups are often willing to help members in a time of need. Following the service, during fellowship get-togethers, let people know what you are looking for. Ask to place a small notice in the weekly bulletin. Maybe ask the officiant to make an announcement at the end of the service to let people know you are looking for a job and to contact you with any leads. Other groups where parents come together such as your PTA, school teams and extra-curricular activities your kids belong to. Let other parents know your situation and don’t be shy about asking them to keep their ears open for you.
If you are looking for a job in a given industry of field such as nursing, contact local organizations affiliated with that career choice. For example, local hospitals and doctors’ offices, uniform supply stores, pharmacies could all be sources of information on who is hiring. Being bashful won’t get it done.
Local Colleges and Universities
Many schools of higher learning have placement centers and job search assistance. They may offer classes on things you can do to improve your chances of being hired. They also offer job fairs throughout the year.
City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce and other local government entities often know about new businesses or the state of existing businesses in the community. Sometimes they will sponsor job fairs. They can be an excellent source of information on what’s going on in the job market in your community.