Don’t let these mindsets hold back your career.
So often I hear from people who dread the prospect of networking.
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So often I hear from people who dread the prospect of networking.
I hear all the time from folks who are worried that they’ll never get a job in their desired field. They may be totally smart and capable, but the same frustrating limitation stands in their way. It’s the classic “you need experience to get a job, and you need a job to get experience” Gordian knot.
Summer is in full swing, and that means it’s internship season. If you’re currently doing the internship hustle, congrats! An internship can be a wonderful way to get real-world experience in your field.
We try to keep things positive on BrightCrowd. But sometimes the best way to learn is by observing what NOT to do. A BrightCrowd member shared this painful networking interaction with me, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s exactly the kind of networking interaction I want to prevent.
I’ve hired dozens of employees and reviewed literally thousands of applicants over my career. Let’s just say I’ve looked at a resume or two. Now, as the CEO of the professional networking site BrightCrowd, members often send me their resumes for an expert opinion.
I’ll answer the classic burning question upfront.
A friend of mine who was unemployed recently applied for over 500 jobs. He was highly qualified, he treated the application process like a full-time job, and it still took him 6 months of searching to land the right position. He admitted (somewhat sheepishly) that feelings of shame held him back even from asking his good friends for referrals.
My friend recently got an interview for a life-changing job. She was so excited. She let herself imagine what it would be like to make a truly amazing career leap – one with a new city, new tax bracket, and endless professional development opportunities. But after 5 interviews and weeks of preparation, the final call from her recruiter wasn’t what she had hoped. It was a polite “Thanks…but no thanks”.
I always knew networking is an essential skill, but I only came to value it seriously when I moved halfway around the world. In my MBA program I learned to present myself well and communicate effectively, but I always felt something was missing from that equation. I needed to do more to be successful.
If you’re job hunting you may have noticed that multiple phone screening interviews are par for the course. Often employers will only bring a candidate in for that face-to-face in the final stages of the hiring process, even if they’re local.
I’ve written before about how valuable your university network can be. Alumni can be your secret career weapon, especially when you’re just starting out. After all, before you have any real-life professional contacts, you’ve got a whole network of folks associated with your school. And let’s be real – they probably all remember how tough it was starting out.
If networking events make you break out in hives…I feel you. You don’t have to be an introvert to panic when you’re plopped in the middle of a professional mixer. Most people would consider me a total extrovert, but even I have trouble getting into the groove at networking events. Finding commonalities in a room full of strangers is an art.
After graduation, the world can feel overwhelming. You’ve got the credentials, but no experience. Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anybody. Maybe you’re awash in debt, with no clear idea of how you’ll pay it back.
You’re in the final interview for a coveted new job (the home stretch!) You’ve aced the interviewer’s questions…you think. You’ve started to breathe again. But you know that one more thing is coming. The meta-question.
Your education is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, in terms of both time and money. Because of the magnitude of the cost, the decision to attend grad school no longer rests solely on your passion and aptitude.
I’ve written before about the power of being vulnerable. This may seem out-of-place on a blog about the professional world, but I disagree. Vulnerability is something that’s relevant to every human interaction, even business or school relationships.
I heard from a BrightCrowd member recently who was in the wrong job. She had only been there 6 months and already she knew the fit was bad. She needed to begin planning her exit, but was feeling trapped. She thought her network was already tapped out, and that there was no clear next step.
Job hunting can be tough. Partly because there’s often a power differential – you’re competing against other applicants for a single job, and the employer gets to choose.
There’s nothing glamorous about a person’s early career. Seriously, I worked at McDonalds for 7 years – it remains my longest gig ever. No matter what fancy school you went to, most people end up in a couple of bad or boring jobs when they’re just out of college. You’re not alone.
We’ve all made mistakes. Whether that’s saying something insensitive, forgetting an appointment, or failing to put your dishes in the office dishwasher, screwing up is inevitable from time to time.
Why is it that so many women want professional mentors, but only a handful actually have one? It may be as simple as knowing how to ask: I hear from women frequently that they don’t know how to approach asking for a mentor.
You’ve graduated! The parties are done, your mortarboard is retired…what’s next?
This advice is shared by BrightCrowd member Sara Muchoney
Networking isn’t necessarily about scoring a sexy new job (or a cubicle with a window). It’s about being human, and helping people out. It’s just basic decency in the professional sphere.
BrightCrowd has always been about the human side of networking. It’s a no-judgement zone where you can get career advice, or offer your expertise. BrightCrowd is, quite simply, a community of professionals helping each other get ahead.
One of the best ways to move a stagnant job search forward is to request an informational interview. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, prepare to have your mind blown.
The professional world can feel harsh these days. Ambiguous emails and curt Slack messages abound (to say nothing of the opaque, impersonal online job application process).
Imposter syndrome can be a beast. At the beginning of the school year I got an email from an incoming freshman at Stanford, who was suffering from a classic case. She had decided to pursue a Computer Science major, but was feeling afraid of approaching professors and research groups to ask for work.
We’re asked pretty frequently why Gmail data is the thing that makes BrightCrowd tick. The first (and maybe most obvious) is that it saves you a ton of time.
When people ask me what BrightCrowd’s all about, I tell them this (more or less):
Think for a second - how many people do you know well enough that you would help them if they asked? It’s probably quite a few!
Sometimes life can seem like an endless string of problems. If you’ve ever been laid off, endured a breakup, struggled in school - or all 3 at once! - you’ll know what I mean.
When I think of the heyday of professional networking, I go all the way back to the Stone Age.
I think we can all agree that job searching is no fun. It’s demoralizing to scour job boards, put hours into each application, and still…crickets. I’ve been there before, and recently I chatted with another member of the BrightCrowd community who was in that very spot.
It can be tough to get a person’s attention nowadays. After all, your email is invariably buried in a pile of a hundred unread messages, which are hastily checked (and deleted) in between meetings. Yikes.
Social media gets a bad rap these days, and it’s not hard to understand why. There’s a platform for every self-promotional purpose, from big career moves to the smoothie you had for breakfast. Scrolling through someone’s “perfect” Instagram feed can feel demoralizing, and the pressure to measure up seems to be growing. We want to break out of the self-promotion arms race. That’s why BrightCrowd was born.