From guest blogger Jessica Newcomb.
At some point in your career search, you are likely to struggle with some kind of negative belief or mindset. Sometimes, negativity about the job search stems from beliefs that are based on incorrect assumptions, but they continue to bog down progress toward securing an internship or full time opportunity. Below are 3 examples of statements I often hear from job seekers followed by an explanation of why they should be disregarded as myths.
- Myth: “The person I want to contact will be upset if I find their email or phone numbers online and reach out to them.”Contact information is floating out there on the World Wide Web, business cards, directories, and company websites. If you use an aggregator like CareerShift as a research tool, the program cannot access anything behind a firewall. Again, the information is out there in the public domain. Networking only works if people engage, and you can’t engage without being found. A community grows stronger when more people connect, and as a result of that dynamic, most people are receptive to networking communication. When in doubt, mention how you found their contact information.
- Myth: “I should treat business contacts differently than personal contacts.”There is a personal element to getting to know business contacts because 90% of job seekers are people. If you didn’t laugh at that, it’s ok, but as a side note, you have to stay upbeat in your search. Laughing is one of the most important thing you can do in a job hunt and helps put others at ease. There has to be a foundation to every relationship, and the basis for forming a connection starts by making contact (as we discussed in #1). You have to reach out! After you jump start a relationship by reaching out, you should seek to develop the relationship. Most people don’t want to provide access to their network to someone they don’t know—to someone they don’t yet trust. Relationships are strengthened through the building of trust, and you will learn about the other person while sharing something about yourself.
- Myth: “I don’t have anything to offer in return, so professional contacts won’t want to help me.” This myth is a very damaging and limiting mindset. Relationship building in both personal and professional contexts (as we discussed in #2) is all about generosity. There is an abundance of success and helpfulness in this world, more than enough to go around, and people for the most part want to share. Helping others provides a sense of satisfaction, and people love when their opinions are valued. As a job seeker, don’t underestimate or disregard what you have to offer. By allowing others to help you—in conjunction with helping others during your search—both parties benefit. If you operate from a position of generosity in your networking effort, contacts are glad to connect more often than not. It is when you lead with your need (i.e. “I need a job.”) that your messages might be ignored, deleted, or declined. Before reaching out, consider what you have to offer—a compliment/praise, solution to a problem, answer to a question, contact suggestion, etc.
What is a problem you have encountered in your search or have seen others face in their career search? Please leave a question to be answered or advice you would like to share.
Jessica Newcomb is the Assistant Director, Graduate Business Career Services at Texas A&M University. Please follow her on Twitter @JessicaNewcomb.