Self-Directed Work Search Step 2: Start Building Your Network

Self Directed

Self-Directed Work Search Step 2: Start Building Your Network

By: Heather Williams | Career Services Advisor
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"While no one is expected to leap tall buildings in a single bound, our aspiring heroes will be tested on their courage, integrity, self-sacrifice, compassion and resourcefulness - the stuff of all true superheroes." - Stan Lee Quotes

A key to maximizing your Self Directed Work Search is to access what many refer to as the “hidden job market”. Did you know that approximately 80% of jobs are never posted or advertised publicly? They come from referrals, contacts and other opportunities. Don’t be discouraged from looking through job-listings but also know that, to a certain degree, employers expect you to seek them out. In the current labour market, more employers are relying on their own employee networks to avoid an excess of applicants to sort through.

One way to access opportunities in the hidden job market is through networking. The age old adage of it’s not “what you know but it’s who you know” certainly seems apt in these times. Building and maintaining a list of professional contacts is a valuable strategy and can pay dividends in the future. Start with people you know – professors or past employers. Networking through your peers is another avenue. Get active in some of the many clubs on campus, participate in SFU Career Days, and consider all the networking possibilities available through volunteering. Participating in volunteer work with peers or with others with similar interests allows you to build a network of people you’ve actually worked with, as opposed to those you meet for only a few minutes at a networking event.

When researching job opportunities, consult with your contacts for more information or for referrals to others in the field. And remember that your relationship is built on a “give and take” understanding, meaning if you have information or referrals that might help one of your contacts, be sure to let them know and offer your assistance if you can.

A key skill to practice while networking is marketing yourself. First impressions are important so be prepared when attending a function that might have networking possibilities; have some business cards and, most of all, have an upbeat, professional attitude that people won’t forget.

Market yourself online through an online portfolio that employers will easily find with a Google search – you may want to consider posting your portfolio to the Online Learning Community. Consider joining LinkedIn; it may uncover a connection to an employee at a company where you wish to work. Joining a company's community online, through sites like Facebook and Twitter may also provide access to openings before the general public – just be sure your profile is up to professional standards.

Finally, don’t forget one of the most important resources you have: your Co-op Coordinator. If you get stuck when searching for your dream position book an appointment with your Coordinator – they have an incredible amount of contacts and resources to keep you going on your Self Directed Work Search.

In the next article we will look at Informational Interviews as an incredible way to get the inside scoop on your desired profession.

Beyond the Article:

The Hidden Job Market via Okanagan College Co-op
Tapping into the Network of Unadvertised Job Openings via cnnmoney.com.

Posted on November 08, 2010