I believe Nas said it best in his song and my former jam, I Know I Can, when he stated “Watch the company you keep and the crowds you bring, cus they came to do drugs and you came to sing”. Ok maybe I’m reaching, but when you think about it, it is partially accurate. You are the summation of the individuals you spend the most time around, so if you surround yourself with positive, ambitious, achieving individuals, their ways will inevitably influence you to be the same and vice versa.
In that same regard, your friends can be great career resources for you when you are searching for a new job. Each will have their own career with their own network of individuals that they have amassed from their current and previous companies, making just five friends a possibly vast matrix of connections to companies, employers and opportunities.
So at your next happy hour, instead of just talking about relationships, entertainment and everything else, take a minute to let it be known you’re looking for a new position and to ask for some assistance in the form of them reaching out to people they know who may be great for you to speak with.
Many of us tend to forget that our family members have actual lives outside of prying into ours. More importantly, in those lives they have, they have careers, which are often more established than ours as they have years of experience over us and may have a friend or a daughter of a friend or a former employer, who may the exact person that you need to be reaching out to for an interview.
Start taking the time to share your career interests with your family members and ask for help. If all else fails, you can always use the good old family guilt to get them to introduce you to their professional network.
Your Alma Mater’s Alumni Network
You’d be surprised how much your degree can actually help you in finding a job. Yes, everyone has one nowadays, but what they don’t have is one from your specific college, which provides you access to your own pool of potential mentors or advocates. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve went on interviews and the first thing the interviewer says to me is ” I noticed you went to so and so, I/my cousin/my neighbor went there too”.
As human beings, we tend to gravitate towards the familiar, and what is more familiar in the professional world than someone who went to the same college as you. These employers like to assume that you therefore may be as well-prepared for hard work as your college made them, which may make them feel more inclined to take a chance on you.
Never overlook checking out your alumni network via your school’s website and seeing if anyone who may have graduate before you holds a position at a company you’d love to work for. A simple e-mail to that person stating your career interests and asking for some of their time to pick their brains on their experience can open the communication channels and turn things in your favor.
National Urban League. New York Young Professionals. National Association of Black Engineers. National Association of Black Journalists.
There is literally a national black association for almost any industry, including accountants, teachers, non-profits and on and on and on. Check online for an association that caters to your interests and needs and join their community. Engage in their online groups. Attend their offline events. Network with other members.
You may meet an experienced industry vet who would be more than happy to spare some of their time and help guide you in the right direction. People love helping people who help themselves and are passionate. Let your personality shine through and compel those around you to feel motivated to assist.
As a last note, aside from family and friends, DO NOT ask anyone else to help you get an interview. It is not in the best taste professionally and turns off many individuals, particularly those who do not know you well and may not want to put their professional reputation on the line for you when they aren’t too familiar with your work.
What you should do instead, is reach out and ask for an informational interview, where you can ask them questions about how they arrived at their current position, what their career path was like and share with them your career aspirations. If you ask insightful questions, do your research and come off as well-prepared and pleasant, more often than not, people will volunteer to connect you with others and suggest positions at their company that may be the right fit for you.