Putting yourself out there is tough.
Meeting new people is intimidating, networking is exhausting, and you can’t shake the fear that your attempts to meet new people are perceived as annoying.
However, roughly 80% of jobs are never even advertised, which means that creating your own opportunities is a great way to build your career – but where do you start?
How can you successfully master this market and push yourself forward (without being, well, pushy)?
Get the right attitude
You won’t get anywhere if you’re held back by doubt.
Yes, networking can be awkward, and looking for new opportunities around every corner may make you feel like a creep.
Remember, if you approach each situation in a clear and direct way, no reasonable person will find your requests for information or inquiries off-putting.
Tip: It’s good to be prepared for a certain amount of disinterest. Some people just won’t want to engage with you – and that’s ok!
Give as much as you take
Leveraging your contacts is a great way to find out about opportunities.
Not only will you benefit from an expanded network, you’ll have a decent chance of a referral or “in” in the form of your connection!
However, you can’t ask for favours without being willing to dish out yourself. Want to take someone for coffee to pick their brain? Have something to offer in return.
Tip: Don’t just blindly suggest lunches to every contact you know. Have a question they can specifically answer, or seek information they in particular can provide you with.
Navigate the social job market
Building up your social presence will introduce you to others on social who may be able to help you out.
Well-positioned experts in your chosen field usually have a good sense of where hot new opportunities are hiding.
There’s an added benefit here! Employers will look you up online before hiring you for anything. Ensure your social presence is just as notable as your real one.
Tip: Be professional – but let your personality shine through. For example, share articles you find informative, but expand on why it resonated with you in the first place. Twitter is an excellent platform to discover interesting news, build opinions on it and share those with others.
Volunteering introduces you to a whole new pool of people. You can be strategic about who these people are (don’t worry).
Interested in pursuing a career in journalism? Try volunteering with a literary magazine or publication who seeks event volunteers.
Volunteering also allows you to stay as far within your comfort levels as you want. You don’t necessarily need to volunteer in positions that require networking, either. Getting involved in your community is a great resume builder and great evidence of your transferable skills.
Tip: Seek out opportunities. If there’s a particular organization you’re interested in working with, get in touch and ask them how to go about volunteering your time with them. Don’t just wait for positions to be advertised publicly!
As you explore and learn more, be alert for opportunities where you can create your own experience!
A good friend of mine was struggling to find employment post-graduation. She turned things around by offering to audit her local library’s social media strategy and develop a new plan for them.
This proactive approach was a great way for her to show off her skills, gain experience and build her network. She even managed to stay in her comfort zone. Networking doesn’t have to be a horribly uncomfortable night of small talk – it can simply be a one-on-one conversation that gets you on people’s radar.
Tip: Figure out what you want to do or what skills you want to develop – then get creative in finding opportunities which cater to this.
By Leah Ruehlicke, TalentEgg.ca
TalentEgg.ca is Canada’s leading job board and online career resource for college and university students and recent graduates.