The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 6

This is the sixth post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

6th deadly sin: going it alone

You read our blog posts about the first five deadly sins of job searching, and have all your ducks in a row. Your resume and social media presence are top notch, and you are well prepared for job interviews. You are staging a great search. . .and yet, after a few weeks, no success. You are starting to doubt yourself. Are there any jobs out there? Are you good enough? Yes, you are! But job searching takes time and patience. The higher your desired position and salary the longer your search will take. The longer the search takes the more demoralizing and discouraging it can become. Don’t commit the 6th deadly sin of job search and try to go it alone!

The best antidote to the job search blues is community

Not feeling needed anymore is one of the prime stressors after job loss. Build a support system that shows you are not alone in this and that makes you feel needed and appreciated. What constitutes a support system will look different for everybody depending on their individual needs. Support systems are often drawn from:

Family – If you have a supportive family that listens and encourages you, perfect! If they make you feel needed, even better. Unfortunately family members often, mostly unknowingly, add to stress with well intentioned but unfounded advice and pressure.

Religious/Spiritual groups – If you have a religious or spiritual home you can fall back on, this can be invaluable. Being involved and helping others can make you feel better about your own situation.

Sports teams/hobby groups – Physical activity is very important for emotional wellbeing. Again, helping others by coaching or leading groups will make you feel better as well!

Job Search Support Groups – Jobs search support groups or job clubs are groups of job seekers that meet on a regular basis and bring job seekers from different backgrounds together for mutual support, networking, accountability and job search tips. Research shows that job club participants on average find employment faster than seekers who go it alone. They also report better wellbeing due to being able to help other group members with networking leads or other advice. You can find these groups in most larger cities and they are often sponsored and run by churches and community organizations. Here at the Career Center we are big believers in this concept and have facilitated weekly job club meetings for years.

If you are a job seeker in a professional career and are interested in joining our job club, you can find more information here or give the Career Center a call at 225-231-3733.

Stay tuned for the next deadly sin of job search.

Written by Anne Nowak

Book Review: A Friend of a Friend of a Friend. . .

what if all the advice we’ve heard about networking is wrong?

You already know that networking is one of the most important ingredients to success in business, in job search and many other life situations. But if you are like most people, you cringe at the thought of going to the next networking meeting full of strangers. If that adequately describes you, you might want to pick up business professor David Burkus’ latest book on the topic: A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend…..Understanding the hidden networks that can transform your life and your career.

Early on he writes that traditional networking meetings are actually not the most efficient way to meet the right people to connect you to your next job or to start your next business venture with. He proceeds to present a number of scientific findings coupled with real life examples of the approaches that do work. At the end of each chapter he presents exercises that every reader can do on their own to apply the chapter’s findings and facilitate their own networking success. Some of his key findings are:

“Find strength in Weak Ties”

While most people will turn to their trusted close friends and family after a career setback, Burkus presents scientific and anecdotal evidence that it is your weak and dormant ties that will most help you in your job search or business endeavor. While close friends are eager and willing to help, their networks are too similar to your own to unearth new information or leads. It is much more likely that a former supervisor or colleague or past college friends who we have not been in close contact with will furnish the opportunity or information that will lead to a career breakthrough. Therefore Burkus recommends to start a regular practice of reengaging old acquaintances (which represent the weak or dormant ties).

“Skip mixers – share activities instead”

Another finding of his research will have many readers breathe a sigh of relief. Burkus advocates shunning traditional networking meetings consisting of a large room full of strangers who awkwardly try to connect and network. He argues that most people at these events just engage with the people they already know or that are very similar to themselves. He presents research that suggests we meet people much more easily and naturally when we engage in activities together where the primary goal is not networking and that draw participation from diverse sources. Some examples are: serving on non-profit boards, volunteering, taking classes, participating in team sports or being active in religious institutions. These kinds of shared activities create stronger bonds among participants than networking mixers ever could.

Overall thoughts

These are just two of the main takeaways. There is a lot more material in the book. The author presents a lot of research to explain how networking works and why some approaches are more efficient than others. Burkus addresses networking issues specific to job search and to founding or growing a business. An added value of the book is the section “From Science to Practice” at the end of each chapter. Burkus gives the reader “homework assignments” to practice the preceding chapter’s materials in their own life. All the practical information can also be downloaded from his website. Following along and completing the assignments will definitely make you a more skilled and efficient networker.

If you’d like a fresh new approach to networking, you may check out A Friend of a Friend by David Burkus from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Anne Nowak