I am finally in Chicago! And the reality of my situation has begun to sink in.
At a recent sales and marketing luncheon, the phrase "in transition" was used frequently as individuals made their introductions. It became obvious that these words meant different things to different people, most of whom were job seekers. As I networked around the room, some of them shared their job search stories with me, and some of them claimed that they had come to a dead end. With a world of online and in-person networking opportunities out there, how can there be a dead end? If you feel as though you're at a stopping point in your "transition" and things aren't moving forward, then take any of the suggestions below. They are sure to keep you busy with no dead end in site (at least, that's what I'm finding):
- Regularly check the job-related web sites. This one seems like a no-brainer, but to save time, be sure to sign up for job alerts. That way, the jobs and keywords you are interested in will be e-mailed to you.
- Regularly check the job banks for associations and professional organizations. Because many of these groups may not have alerts you can register for, this part may be more time consuming. Bookmark the sites into a special folder called "Job Search" or "Marketing Jobs" or something similar so that you can easily reference them later.
- Look up volunteer opportunities. Volunteering=free networking. Some great web sites to check out are www.volunteermatch.org or www.idealist.org. If you are in marketing, you'll want to visit www.taprootfoundation.org.
- Calendar networking events. Look up the dates of career fairs, luncheons, happy hours, seminars, etc. and add them to your calendar with all of the information necessary for registration. Then, take a look at the week ahead and what opportunities you have. Register for the events that make the most sense for you (based on location, cost, industry, etc.). Events are always being added, so again, this could be time-consuming but well worth it.
- Utilize lists. Most major cities have a business publication that comes out with a Book of Lists each year. Talk about a jackpot! Look up the companies in your industry and research their individual web sites to see if they are hiring. Take it a step further and look up the lists of the "Fastest Growing Companies" in your area or the "Best Places to Work".
- Get on LinkedIn.com, now! Spend some time getting signed up for and familiar with www.linkedin.com. Take the time to find your friends and professional contacts on it, and then a whole new world of contacts will become available to you. Just do some research by viewing your friend's connections. Who do they know? Who could they introduce you to? Perform a search for a company you have applied to, and when the results come up, look to see if there is a number next to the person's name. This could tell you how many degrees of separation are between you and that contact, and which of your friends may know him/her.
- Network with specific interest groups. On www.meetup.com and even on www.twitter.com or www.facebook.com, search for groups in your location. For example, I would search on "Chicago marketing", or even one of my hobbies like "running Chicago". See what meetups and profiles come up and start connecting there.
- Request a brief face-to-face meeting. Don't be afraid to blindly e-mail an expert in your area and ask for a networking meeting. Make sure that you do state where you got his/her contact information, but then ask for just 15 minutes of their time. Be sincere and to-the-point in your request. You won't always hear back from every single person, but once in a while you will come across a professional who may give you the 15 minutes, and when they do, treat it just like an interview. Don't forget to show the same consideration one day when you are a successful businessperson and a job seeker requests to meet with you.
Depending on how long you've been "in transition", these suggestions may or may not be new to you, but the opportunity to meet new people will never end. As long as you are doing everything you can to consistently get in front of people, then you are making the most of your transition. Good luck out there!