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Don't Go It Alone in Your Job Search

Brian RayBrian Ray (pictured) is founder of Crossroads Career Network, a national, non-profit membership of churches that provides online job search/ career resources and access to career groups. He is also author of the 2010 Crossroads Career Workbook, owner of Primus Consulting executive search, and former vice president for human resources and administration for Chick-fil-A restaurants.

Recently, I saw the movie "Up in the Air" for a second time.

While the movie focuses on Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) and his unencumbered lifestyle as a frequent-flying corporate downsizer, the backdrop of the film is the more than 15 million laid-off workers. It reveals the shock and emotional hit of being jobless, up in the air, and all alone.

No, wait! It doesn’t have to be that way.

One morning last month, I went to North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, and saw 200-plus people meeting and greeting one another at a career group event. The volunteer leader, Peter Bourke, invited people to sit at one of 30 round tables.

"Most jobs that get filled are not posted publicly," Peter began. "Most are filled through networking. Networking, however, is really hard without relationships. That is why we are here today. Here you can meet people, make friends, start relationships, and help one another."

As he continued, he outlined three rules to help you succeed at networking:

  • The 3-Foot Rule: If you get within three feet of anyone, you are obligated to share your career transition experience with them.
  • The Help-Others-First Rule: If you're wondering who can help you find leads, turn your thinking around and adopt a new mindset: 'Who can I help?'
  • The Have-a-Weekly-Plan Rule: Each week, be prepared to talk about the job and the employers you seek, including a list of the top five organizations you want to network with. Know (and ask for) the help you need—whether it's contacts, intelligence about an employer, or encouragement to keep going.

We quickly moved on to a facilitated conversation around each table. Each person had 10 minutes to describe the opportunity they wanted and the help they needed. Others offered suggestions, and shared phone numbers and email addresses. A few days later, I sent an email introducing an HR director from our group looking for a contact in a specific company to a friend of mine who is a VP in that company. That’s the power of career groups, contacts, relationships, and personal referrals!

Back to the movie: "Up in the Air" ended with video clips of people who were unemployed, talking about their career transitions and the power of relationships.

The moral of the story? Career transition is NOT a journey you should make alone. Take the trip with others. Consider it a team effort in which we help one another with contacts, counsel, encouragement, and accountability.

Find career groups near you. Be prepared, reach out, and help others through their crossroads.

Have you joined a career group recently? Has the experience helped you? Tell us about it in a comment below.

RELATED LINKS

Networking Plays a Critical Role in Your Job Search
Job Seeker Q&A: Finding Comfort in Networking
Social Networking Can Get You Hired or Fired 

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