By Jamie Leboe, Career Coach
We think of summer as a laid back time of the year. We spend a lot of time outdoors engaging in recreational activities. Letting our guards down and our hair down, we leave the house in our most casual clothing or not much clothing at all — think bathing suits, shorts, tank tops, and flip flops.
Because our summer lifestyle offers us more opportunities to meet and talk to people, it is also a great time to network for jobs. So consider this: Every time you leave the house, no matter where you are going — to the snowball stand, your child’s lacrosse game, the pool, or even on vacation — anyone you meet might be able to help you get your next job.
Career experts are constantly telling us how important networking is, because most jobs are never advertised. 65% – 85% of job seekers today are finding their jobs through personal and/or online networking.*
If you’re thinking of seeking a new job, either because you are not working now or because you’re ready for a job change, you should always be prepared to meet a possible employer or someone who has the potential to help you to find employment. I know a person who got a job with a heating/insulation company. He saw the truck parked in front of his neighbor’s house and went over and started a conversation with one of the employees. Turns out the company was looking to hire.
Take advantage of these additional opportunities to network, network, network. Here are some tips:
- Feel awkward or shy about approaching a complete stranger and opening a conversation? Listen and show interest in what the other person is talking about. Find a “hook” or door opener (“I heard you mention that you ….”)
- Ask questions like “What do you do?” (one of the most commonly posed questions at cocktail parties, so people expect it). It creates easy entrée into a conversation where you can talk about your work experience and say you are looking for a new opportunity.
- Always be “on.” Get dressed nicely (even to go to the gym) and leave your house with a smile. You never know whom you’ll meet. You don’t have to go out dressed for an interview, but do look presentable.
- Exude confidence, be positive and upbeat; become an actor so you can sell your skills.
- Don’t speak negatively about your previous or current employer. Don’t play the victim.
- Practice your “elevator speech” for networking purposes.
- Follow up (“I’d love to talk with you more, to learn more about your organization”); exchange business cards.
Any casual encounter can be turned into an opportunity to find a job. During the summer when people have a relaxed attitude, they may be freer with conversation. People are always happy to talk about themselves and feel good when someone shows interest. Be the person who is there to listen, and then there is nothing wrong with a putting in a little plug about you. You just never know – while your tennis or golf game is improving, you may score some points in your job search, too.
*Pam Lassiter, “The New Job Security,” Bob McIntosh, www.recruitingblogs.com
By Jamie Leboe, Career Coach, Career Center, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about JCS Career services click here or call 410-466-9200.