Looking for a job can be lonely, and you may get easily discouraged. But it’s not something you have to do entirely on your own.
You can get some help from others and improve your chances of finding employment by creating a job search support team.
What is a job search support team?
It’s pretty much exactly like it sounds. Put together a team of carefully chosen people who can support you in your efforts. Doing this can help you dramatically expand your reach and find more opportunities. In fact, the late Richard Bolles author of What Color is Your Parachute? states it is one of the four best ways to hunt for a job.
This team will be your troop, your eyes and ears on the ground as you scour the landscape for potential job opportunities. Members can support you in many ways, from hearing about job openings and connecting you to their contacts to reading your resume and critiquing your elevator pitch.
The group should have no more than 10 members – but even one or two could make a viable team – and you should choose them carefully. Make sure that they are people who would likely be willing to take the time to help you achieve your goal of finding a job. Ideally, one or more of your team members should be working at the type of job you want to do, because they will be more likely to hear about openings that are appropriate for your talents and skills.
Create an action plan
Put together an action plan, or outline of steps, focusing on how you will approach each potential member. The best way is face-to-face. Call them up and invite them for coffee, if you can afford it. If they happen to be a hiring manager, make it clear when you call that you just want guidance. You won’t ask them for a job.
When you get together be very specific about the type of work you’re looking for and why you are good at it. Ask them, “Do you know someone who might know someone who might be looking to hire a person with my experience and abilities.” Having your JIST card to share with them could be very useful.
If they say “no,” ask them to let you know if they hear of any opportunities they think you would be interested in. And also ask them if it would be OK to check in with them in a month or so. Since these are people you’ve chosen because you sense they are the supportive type, they will no doubt agree.
Once you’ve assembled your team, make sure you keep a record of when you talk to each of them and what they told you. You can use a file box with index cards or a pad of paper. First write each person’s name and contact info at the top of the index card or piece of paper. Then make a list of the dates of your discussions and what you talked about. If you have a computer you can do the same thing using a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet.
You’ll also want to have a calendar, so after you talk to each person you can schedule a time to call them again a month later.
Creating a job search support team will take time and effort, so don’t be concerned about having one in place before you start your job search. But the assistance of its members should help to provide you with extra confidence, contacts and encouragement that may make a difference.