Oct 06 2014
Guest Author: Reena O’Brien, Communication Professional and Army Spouse.
My entry in to the Army life happened later in life. I spent 15 years working for the same company. So when I married my husband and jumped into the life of a military spouse, it meant a regrouping of sorts. How was I going to maintain my professional life? Well – truthfully – I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to do it…
My first military move took us to Tallahassee, Florida. I was excited and nervous! I am originally from Florida so it was like going home but starting over at the same time.
So, I sourced my network. What does that mean? Well, I told everyone and anyone I knew where I was going and what I was looking for. I even shared my goals with people I didn’t know very well. I didn’t want to just take any job – after all, I spent almost half my life devoting myself to a career and an industry. I wanted to use those qualities to benefit an organization and grow myself. Some may see that as picky, I see it as “setting my bar high.”
My goal was to network. The dictionary describes it as, “to cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding employment.” I set up meetings with people who were friends of friends. They were all happy to take time out of their day to meet with me. The thing is people like helping people. It makes them feel good. My meetings always included kind words and good advice. They didn’t always result in a job prospect but they provided me with a new found friend, mentor and contact.
So how do start? Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Reach out to your group of friends, colleagues, former or current co-workers. Military spouses are so good at the unknown. They are pros at breaking the ice. Put yourself out there. Tell people what you are looking for and see who they might know.
2. Soak up the Intel you get. Networking could mean a structured meeting, a coffee break, a lunch date, a phone chat or an email conversation. All of these are great ways to get your name out there, share your skill set and explain what type of job you are looking for.
3. Target a specific company. Are you interested in a certain company? Reach out to them. Find out who the Director is or HR Recruiter and express interest. They may not have a position open but show some initiative. And when a position opens, you have a better chance of being remembered.
4. Take notes and review your notes. Even if you don’t want to take notes during the meeting. After it is over, organize your thoughts and see what information you gleaned and how it can help you grow.
5. Keep in touch with the people you interact with. Maintain and build on your new (and old) relationships.
Luckily, I landed a job after 2 months. It was truly a job I loved and was sad to leave when we had to PCS. I got the job because a friend of a friend had mentioned my name. This was not by chance. This was because I made the effort to put myself out there and build relationships.
What networking strategies have you used during your job search? Please share your tips by leaving a comment below.