Changing Careers and Networking
My Mother was fond of sayings. I remember watching a footy match on TV with her in my early teen years and as the camera scanned the sparse crowd she said
”There are two and a dog at this game son”
I was busy trying to spot the dog, not yet able to appreciate the meaning of her words.
She also had a saying “it’s not what you know but who you know”.
To her this was a fact of life. Opportunity for her was often intertwined with who you were acquainted with and it was no surprise to Mum that the more people you knew the more opportunities that came your way.
My Mother knew that knowing a person was not enough and she was also a great advocate of education, developing skills and lifelong learning. She taught herself to be a very shrewd and successful investor.
Mum helped my Sister and me to get school holiday jobs by asking her Aunty for help. That was her way of putting her saying into practice. It worked a treat.
So we soon had holiday jobs and money, a most sort after commodity for teenagers then and maybe now!
Thanks to Mum’s connection and the support of my Great Auntie I ended up working in the commercial kitchen at the department store where she worked during the Christmas school holidays.
Early starts and sometimes very late finishes, accompanied by mountains of food and being immersed in different cultures and languages, was a great experience for me. I had just finished high school, and had applied for a few tertiary courses but I really did not know what I wanted to do next?
One afternoon tea break during my holiday job surrounded by Kitchen workmates and the Head Chef I thought and from nowhere blurted out loud
“Mmm being a Chef would be a pretty good job and I wouldn’t mind doing it”.
Believing I was only talking to myself I soon realised many people had heard me and I quickly went back to my tea and biscuit, slightly embarrassed the by pause in the groups conversation and the attention and interest focused on me in that moment.
The Head Chef must have heard my words and when a brand new apprentice chef left a few days later expectantly, he pulled me aside and asked whether I was serious about being a Chef.
Having no other plans, or any plans for my life at the time, this sounded attractive and I confirmed my interest with him.
That must have been my application as a day or two later Personnel gave me a few forms and I became an apprentice, much to the disappointment of my parents who had hoped their son would go on to University. All in good time Mum & Dad I thought, but not out loud. Once bitten twice shy.
There is another saying that if you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up anywhere.
Before I knew it I was a fully-fledged Apprentice Chef enrolled in trade school and working in high pressure commercial kitchen. This was very different to be a school holiday casual kitchen hand. Wow Mum those words about who you know are true, I thought to myself. There was definitely more than two and a dog at work as it was a big kitchen and I also learnt the truth of another of her sayings that year.
“Be careful of what you wish for as you might get it”
That’s another story.
Today we might call finding work in this way, networking or accessing the hidden job market.
Networking has been an effective job search and career change strategy for many years.
Times have changed but the benefits of connecting with people, being known by others and researching job and career options has not. Sure it is more sophisticated today; the internet and social media have created a whole new way of networking and connecting with people.
Networking should play a part in a job search, career change or career transition strategy. In fact networking is great for researching just about anything and if approached in the right way many people (not all) are willing to give advice.
It is estimated that between 60-80% of all jobs that are filled in Australia are not advertised, see http://sydney.edu.au/careers/finding_jobs/job_search_strategies/hidden_published_job_markets.shtml
This is called the hidden job market because it is rarely open to the public and therefore competition is less than the advertised job market: a great incentive for us to tap into it where we can.
I have experienced the benefits and challenges of networking over many years and mentored clients to embrace networking, particularly those in their more mature years.
Recently I was coaching a professional who was having an extended break after finishing up at a job from hell.
She wanted to move into a whole new sector and use her transferrable skills, experience and commitment to this sector to secure her ideal role.
Recruiters, on line job advertisements and social media were all part of her plan. We talked about the importance of networking and although not a naturally outgoing person, she was smart enough to know how crucial it was for her to network.
With a list of contacts she set about making it happen, not thinking she would run into a CEO from the sector she wanted to work in by accident, a few weeks later.
Finding out in that “per chance meeting and conversation” that the CEO was looking for a new person, my client quickly sent through an application shortly after and a few days later she was being interviewed, and eventually got the job!
It does not always happen like this but people do find new opportunities by actively and professionally networking. Here are some do’s and don’ts tips on networking
If you are looking for opportunities or wanting to change your type of work/ career it is important to include networking in your job/career change strategy. If Mum were around toady she might say Son” it is not just what you know it is also who you Know”
Mothers know best!
For free tips and tools on changing careers go to Rod’s website www.rodsteele.com.au