• Kelley Dadah

Looking to Change Careers? Start Networking!

A career transition is 100% possible, but it 100% will not happen by applying online. The primary mistake job seekers make today is thinking they can transition careers by filling out online job applications. By putting forth some effort in the more traditional job-seeking methods, a structured process and strategy, you can land a job you love.

To have a fighting chance in the vast pool of applicants when applying online, you need to have ALL the requirements of the position plus a little luck. Believe it or not, the ATS does make mistakes!

Bersin & Associates, an Oakland, Calif.-based research and advisory services firm specializing in talent management, created a perfect profile in relations to a clinical scientist position. The resume had all the qualifications as well as a high percentage of keywords, and it still only scored a 43% match because the ATS misread it.

What can you do besides applying online to get an interview? Network! Why is networking so important? It gives you access to the hidden job market as well as the opportunity for potential employers to get to know you before they see your resume. You get buy-in first, so when reviewing your resume, they think of how they can utilize your skills and experience instead of why they shouldn't hire you. So here are a few tips to network like a rock star:

1. Define your area of focus and know your career objective. By being able to articulate what you want to do, you can have a candid and meaningful conversation with hiring managers about your experience, background and what you have to offer.

2. Craft your elevator pitch. Nothing makes a better impression than someone who knows their value and can convey it with passion and enthusiasm. This will lead to meaningful conversations and get potential employers to want to continue talking with you.

3. Choose the right event for you. Make sure you research who is going to be there and if it is worth your time. Beware of evening events that turn into more of a social happy hour rather than a professional networking event.

4. Ask the right questions. Remember it's not all about you (even if it is), research what companies are attending the networking event and prepare a list of questions. Awkward pauses are the worst, but by having a few networking questions, you can keep your audience engaged.

5. Exchange business cards. Make sure you ask for one and have a follow-up plan. These are warm leads that can turn into interviews and job offers.

6. Practice! If you are nervous, there is no harm in practicing with friends/family, so you gain a level of confidence and comfort.

I remember when I despised networking events. As I gained more networking experience, I became choosier with my time, researched the size of the event and attendee list. I found I started to really enjoy talking to people and getting to know their story, and today it's one of my favorite things to do! I guarantee with a little practice and effort, you'll get results and who knows maybe even enjoy yourself.

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