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Photo courtesy of Greentech Media

Networking 101

By Giana / October 5, 2016


[caption id="attachment_1232" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo courtesy of Greentech Media[/caption]

Effective networking can be considered an art. As you master this skill, new opportunities will come your way and your career expand in new directions.

You may have heard the word “networking” once or twice (or ten thousand times) since you stepped onto the job market, but what does this word really mean, and how can it help you develop your career? Job search advisors and guidance counselors often use this term in a way that’s either highly specific or super vague. For example, “networking” can mean flying across the country to attend a seminar in an airport hotel just so you can awkwardly corner an expert in your field and subject them to your personal pitch. OR it can mean reaching out to a former coworker on Facebook to say happy birthday. Both count as networking, though each offers a very different level of action, risk, and long term value.


Networking involves any activity that helps you be in touch with people who can support your career. The secret to effective networking involves using your time and your social energy efficiently.

Networking Helps You Learn about New Opportunities

As you search for work, your first step will involve finding out about open positions you might want to pursue. And while job boards and industry websites publish plenty of positions, most available jobs never reach these venues. Candidates for these unposted positions are often found through employee referrals. Referrals almost always carry more impact that resumes from strangers.

If you talk to more people, then you know more people. And if you know more people and these people know that you’re looking for work, they can help you discover hidden inside tracks.

People Like People They Already Know

Hiring is risky. Hiring total strangers is so risky that most managers would rather avoid it altogether if they can. If you “know” a hiring manager—even if that means you met just one time, or you’re the friend of a friend of a friend—it makes you seem less threatening and more reliable, smart, friendly than you otherwise would.

Networking is Easy! (In Theory)

Start building your network by taking a few simple steps. First, reach out to the people you already know in a professional context. These include people you’ve worked for, worked with, or met during a work-related event. Try to remember the people you meet at work events and keep an eye out for any way you might be able to help, support, or connect with them. What goes around comes around!

Second, join professional groups in a formal way. Subscribe to an industry publication or add to a comment thread on an industry board online.  Look for groups and societies that matter in your industry and become an active member of communities that interest you, both online and off.

Third, attend as many “networking” events as you can. These include job fairs, conferences, seminars, and lectures that are open to the public and address issues in your industry. People who attend these gatherings expect to approach and be approached by strangers. They’re as interested in meeting you as you are in meeting them. Put on your game face and get ready to introduce yourself and tell your story.

For more on how to get the most out of every networking opportunity that comes your way, explore the job search guidelines on LiveCareer.

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The Office Holiday Party: A Survival Guide

By Giana / December 12, 2016

Every year in mid-December, employers like to show their appreciation, largesse, and respect for holiday traditions with a soiree as grand as the company budget allows. There’s no better way to celebrate corporate bounty and bring employees together than a fun, relaxed gathering with plenty of free-flowing booze. Sounds like a great time, right? There’s just one catch: As experienced employees know, the holiday party is not all about fun, it’s not the time guzzle drinks, and it’s certainly not time to let your hair down the way you might at a friend’s party. If you’re concerned about the growth of your career, don’t cut loose. You should treat this party as an opportunity, and consider it just another day (or night) at the office, even though you might be off-site. Here’s how to have a great time at this year’s holiday party while ensuring your boss and coworkers still respect you in the morning.

Commit

Don’t waffle. Just go. Clear your schedule and show up. Don’t wait until the last minute to RSVP, don’t respond with a “maybe,” and don’t plan to make it a quick stop and then head for the door. Make a night of it. This event is management’s gift to their employees and should be handled with respect. If you can’t make the party, respond promptly with your apologies.

Bring your best self

Eat food with substance (like almonds or a cheese sandwich) before the party so that you’re armed with energy and steady blood sugar. You don’t want to have to depend on champagne and canapés for sustenance. Approach clients and colleagues you don’t already know and mingle like it’s your job…because it is. Instead of thinking about the fun you’re going to have (or the misery you’re going to endure), focus on making sure others have a good time. To do this, you’ll need to put on your game face and bring a genuine positive attitude.

Stop at two drinks

Fill your glass at the beginning of the event, drain it slowly, then move onto a few rounds of water or soda. In an hour or two, you’ll be ready for your second drink. A few hours later, and you’ll be ready to leave. Pacing is everything. If you’re losing track of the drinks you’ve had, you’ve had too many and it’s time to cut yourself off. Remember: This isn’t really a party. It’s work, and drinking at work is usually not a good idea.

Be yourself

During the regular workday, you may not feel comfortable talking about your family life, your friends, your hobbies or your personal past. It’s wise to follow that instinct, for the most part. But the holiday party gives you an opportunity to share some of your real personality while staying within the bounds of professionalism. While you’re at it, ask others about themselves and employ your listening skills when they answer. This is a great time to connect with those you rarely get to interact with during the workday.

Don’t make it all business

If you really want a deadline extension, a raise, a promotion, a more flexible project budget, or a certain plumb assignment, lay the groundwork by schmoozing with those who can help you, but don’t ask directly at the holiday party. There’s a time and a place, and if you engage in non-work-related banter now, you can follow up and get what you need later, during regular business hours.

Avoid oversharing

The holiday party may seem like a great time to tell people what you really think — about a client, about a political event, or about an annoying colleague — but it isn’t. Always think before you speak, party or no party, especially if you have been drinking.

Take in the spectacle

When will you have another chance to sit with your boss and nerd out over your favorite movie franchise? When will you get to see Doris from accounting drunk and tearing it up on the dance floor? Or to flirt with your office crush without raising an eyebrow? Never again! At least not until next year. So enjoy the side of your coworkers that you rarely get to see. Just make sure you’re part of the audience, not the show. For more on how to keep your career on an even keel as you navigate the drama of the holiday season, turn to the experts at LiveCareer.
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Network With a Purpose

By Giana / November 23, 2016

A strong professional network doesn’t usually form by accident. Network building takes work, time, patience, and empathy. As you step into the job search marketplace and share your plans with your family and friends, you’ll probably receive a deluge of advice on the subject of “networking.” Everyone around you, happily employed or not, will eagerly tell you that success lies in social connections, not experience and skills, and of course “It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know!” In many ways, this is true; social connections are certainly valuable during your job search. But it’s not exactly advice. There’s a difference between knowing what should be done and knowing how to do it. Yes, you’ll need to know people. You’ll go far if you can rely on a huge population of close professional friends and avid supporters who will happily work behind the scenes on your behalf. But where are you supposed to find all these fans and contacts? Surrounding yourself with a powerful “network” isn’t a simple act of will. Network building takes time, patience, and strategic goal setting. As you hit the job search trail, ask yourself a few questions: 1) “What do I need from my network?” 2) “How can I meet and connect with more people in my industry?” and 3) “What clear and specific steps should I take next?” As you answer these questions, keep a few considerations in mind.

Create a list of people you already know.

Any person can become a valuable career connection, and any random conversation with a stranger (or an existing friend) can reveal a link between something you want and a person who can help you get it. Potential career contacts are all around you, whether you know it or not. But since you can’t do anything (just yet) about the connections you can’t see, start by making a list of the ones that you can. List every person in your industry who might be able to help you land a job. This list might include your former boss, your former coworkers, your college advisor, a favorite professor, your friend’s parents, your parents friends, or a mentor. For now, don’t focus on HOW they might help you; just write down their names.

Set a goal.

Establish a timeline, and then set a networking goal that you would like to meet within that time frame. For example, “meet and chat with at least five new people who work in this industry”, or “Schedule at least three informational interviews by the end of the month.” You can also keep your goals very specific, for example, “Reach out to Jamie’s friend by email and ask her for help and advice”, or “Attend at least three industry networking events by November 12th.” For some job seekers, it helps to set one large goal (“Double my contacts list by the fall”) and then break that goal down into a set of smaller milestones.

Attend events.

Job fairs, seminars, industry gatherings, conventions, and even parties can all provide excellent opportunities to establish social connections. Search for these events and schedule as many as you can while you’re on the hunt for work.

When you have contacts, hold onto them.

Keep in touch with your existing connections, and when you make a new friend or establish a new relationship, put some effort into maintaining it. This doesn’t always have to involve work or shop talk. Sometimes just clicking “like” on someone’s Facebook photo or sending them a holiday card can remind them that you exist. The most effective way to maintain contact and stay in touch is simple: identify ways to help others reach their own goals, and follow through. If you can provide information, support, advice, or material help, do so. Don’t expect anything in return, but recognize that karma is real and what goes around comes around. For more guidelines that can help you build a maintain a strong professional network during the course of your career, turn to the resources available at LiveCareer.
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Job Searching Tips for New Teachers

By Giana / August 29, 2016

Congratulations! You're graduating with a degree in education, pursuing your certification, and completing your student teaching requirements. Soon, you'll be ready for your first classroom position! Here are a few tips that can help you navigate a tough job market.

For many of our readers—teachers, parents, and students—the arrival of August means one thing: back to school! It’s time to gather supplies, refresh your wardrobe, and make some serious schedule adjustments. The lazy days of summer are coming to an end.

If you are graduating this year with education degree, this season will mark the beginning of your formal job search. You’re about to face the marketplace with your resume in hand…gulp.

For newly minted teachers who already hold job offers, congratulations! And good luck! Enjoy the first September of your long career as an educator. And for those who are working their way into the system and pitching their skills to school administrators, we offer our heartfelt support and few tips that can pave the way.

Create a portfolio.

The application instructions provided by each school will typically be very clear. Some institutions ask for more detailed credentials and paperwork than others. Some use more automation during the process than others do. Follow the directions that apply to each institution and you’ll make your way through the system. But there’s one item you should have available no matter who asks to see it: a portfolio. Your portfolio should be an online collection of your major accomplishments, including descriptions and syllabi/curricula for each course you’ve taught. A simple webpage should do the trick. You can list the address of your portfolio on your resume or within your application.

Get formal resume help.

Applying for a teaching position differs widely from pursuing a corporate or for-profit job. In the education field, your resume will need to be standardized and organized according to clear guidelines. Missing one important rule or omitting one key section can cost you a valuable opportunity. Have your resume reviewed and edited by a professional and don’t miss a single detail. Your resume and cover letter should emphasize your understanding of the issues that impact education in your field and your geographic area.

Show off your skills and training.

Have you taken recent courses on brain-based learning? Classroom management? Teacher training and administration? Curriculum development? If you’re like most teachers, you haven’t stopped learning, and you have no plans to stop any time soon. Show off your most recent coursework and professional development in your portfolio and in your resume.

Stay open to substitute roles.

Serving as a substitute teacher first can open doors to a full-time position later. In fact, if you’re targeting a district with very few open positions or tight competition for each position, this is the most reliable path into the classroom. Find out how your target substitution system works. Many are now automated and you’ll need to register yourself immediately for consideration this fall.

Now is a great time to network.

Education and school-related issues are at the top of everyone’s mind at this time of year. So this is a perfect time to get into the subject, meet new people, learn new information, and make professional connections. Take advantage of every networking opportunity that comes your way. Remember, everyone knows someone in this business! Keep your ears open and be ready to follow through if you come in contact with someone who can help you.


LiveCareer as a great place to start building a teacher resume. Visit the site and explore our resume and cover letter building tools today.