Diane Williams was in a jam.
She had recently graduated from an internationally focused MBA program, and had been working as marketing executive at a Chinese food products manufacturing firm near San Francisco when the recession struck. She initially thought she would stay in the Bay Area, but her fiancée had also lost his position as an electronics games developer and had a job opportunity back on the East Coast, near New York City.
With the job market in a downward spiral, now is not an ideal time to make a job change (three time zones away, no less). So what’s a person to do? Would she keep her job or follow her man across the country? Diane decided to take the leap.
She wasn’t flying blind, though.
In preparation for the move, Diane volunteered in the San Francisco office of American Marketing Association and used their listing of members in New York to make some information calls. She also developed a “research project” to study online marketing practices.
Having this project gave her easier access to networking in New York, since it gave her an excuse to call industry insiders, but rather than asking for employment, she was able to start relationships by asking for information and expertise. It’s the kind of cold call people are actually eager to take.
In the end, Diane found a job through online social networking. It was a connection to a friend of a friend on LinkedIn that lead her to a position at Nabisco, one that focuses on Asian consumers both here and abroad. Diane spoke decent Mandarin (she was a Peace Corps volunteer in China for two years). She did a key word search on LinkedIn using “Mandarin” and “marketing” and uncovered the individual who would eventually hire her as assistant product manager in the Nabisco division marketing energy beverages in China.
This successful job search offers some key insights into how to land a job during a recession. Here are some more tips that should help you as you embark on your search, whether for a new job or a whole new career:
1. Take a close look at industry data. Research industries and job sectors that are experiencing worker shortages or still experiencing job growth. These are the areas where you may want to focus your search, if your industry isn't doing as well.
Search online with in-depth firm and industry databases like Lexis Nexis and Hoovers. In particular Hoovers will gather information about the best firms in different industries. Also use Indeed.com to quickly uncover open positions in a specific geographic areas.
2. Join an association. Volunteer to be on a committee within an industry association, so you can meet key active members in an in-depth way. This will give you an opportunity to call up fellow members at potential target firms as part of your committee work.
3. Expand your social networking. Going to job fairs where you mill around and stand in line to meet employers is no longer your best bet. Now you can have countless opportunities with a few keystrokes and a couple of mouse clicks. Sure you've received those requests to join LinkedIn and BrightFuse, and maybe you use Facebook daily. But now is the time to really take advantage of the network you've probably casually built over the years. Find someone in your network who knows someone at a company for which you might be interested in working.
4. Be patient. Accept the likelihood that your career change is a transformational process that will take time. Don’t let it get you down and approach the search as though it was a job.
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