The New York Times recently featured an article focused on job search difficulties for 40-50+ year olds. While this is not new news, the interesting take-away is the research on the behaviors that are required to successfully find work. The research showed that the best way to improve the odds of finding a job at any age is to build a broad network throughout your career.
The findings suggest that as we dig deeper into life and work, our personal and professional networks become more focused. That in itself is not bad—it just hampers the job search when it’s time for career change and/or advancement.
So how do you build the network once you have lost contact with college and early professional life associates? The best advice is to Give Early and Give Often. Giving a helping hand to others through referrals, references, or encouragement is a great way to re-establish relationships. LinkedIn has made it very easy to re-connect; join groups, follow companies, and reach out to people you know. This proactive, yet easy, approach works well for people in all stages of their professional life.
The other side of networking is self-preparation. Understanding where you want to go, where you’ve been, and what your strengths are will allow clear communication with your contacts. It will also provide structure and strategy to your networking plan to allow a more targeted approach.
Career change is never easy, and mid-level and senior level employees may need added ‘tools’ to ensure a successful job search. But re-connecting with your network, at any age, is not as difficult as it sounds and will most likely enhance your life as well as your career prospects.
Happy Job Hunting!
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