By Ann Eastham
Contributor, Career Services
This article previously was previously run on Careers in Government.
When you’re a job seeker, the biggest frustration is by far the process of applying for jobs online and never knowing if your application is even reviewed. It can feel like your resume is just in outer space. You’re not alone in feeling this way; so many people do. You may wonder why someone else was hired when you may have been equally, if not more so, qualified. It’s probably because they are taking full advantage of networking opportunities.
If you aren’t currently networking, you’re missing out on the best way to find a new job or career. Here are just some of the ways you can get started:
Find local volunteer opportunities that align with your career interests. Perhaps it’s that you’re looking to work in the public health field; search for a hospital or community health group who need volunteers. You may think of it as free labor for them, but instead think of it as free exposure, training, and experience for you. If you can’t find something in your field, find a cause you believe in, such as Habitat for Humanity or your local SPCA.
Join Professional Organizations
There are many professional organizations for every field. Some may be national or global, while others may be more regional. Find one whose mission you believe in and that fits your career goals. If you can’t find one for your particular field, consider an organization for professionals in a smaller category (young professionals, professional women). You can also join an organization that you believe in (Salvation Army for example) to develop your skills further.
Don’t just join the organization, get involved in it. Find local meet up chapters and then attend and participate in the meetings. The individuals at those meetings are not only going to be able to give you information about the field, but they also may be able to point you towards job opportunities. If you’re especially involved, you may even find that someone could be instrumental in hiring you. (I know this, because it’s happened to me!)
Attend Conferences (and Other Networking Events)
These can be conferences related to your professional organization or regional and local networking events. You’d be surprised how many networking events are happening in your area! I know where I live a group of young business professionals meet once a month. The event doesn’t have to be big in order to network!
While networking doesn’t guarantee that you’ll find employment, it does guarantee that you’ll meet people and hopefully you’ll meet just the right person.