Are you and your spouse making a permanent change of station (PCS) soon? Are you currently working and wondering how you're going to find a new job in your next move? Networking could be your tool for securing future employment.
Before my first PCS move, I was finishing up my last year of law school and looking for my first job as an attorney. I was determined to find a job in my field and I knew that in small town Mississippi, it would take "knowing someone who knows someone."
Through networking, I was able to secure not only a job in my field but a job I enjoyed. Then of course as soon as things started to feel settled, we were given orders for another move. This time last year I was preparing for a career change (and oy, another licensing exam). However, once again, I reached out to a law school classmate with local connections and was able to get an interview and a position.
Here are some of the networking tips I learned (sometimes through trial and error) for a successful job search while going through a PCS.
1. Begin networking as soon as you know you are moving.
Once we received word of our PCS (but not official orders because we all know those things take forever), I began researching job opportunities as well as networking. I updated my resume and tweaked my cover letters to include that I was now moving to the Oklahoma City area. I reached out to colleagues asking who they knew in the area or if they knew of job openings. I talked to people who had lived in the area previously or knew someone there and gained some valuable contacts.
If you're not comfortable saying that you're specifically looking for a job, you can pose your email as, "I'd love to make new connections in the area." Moving to a new area is hard, and it's always good to meet people with common interests who can help with employment, but also give you the run-down on things to do and see.
2. Reach out to family, friends and colleagues who are in the area (or who know people in the area)
After updating my resume and cover letter and researching the area myself, I reached out to friends and coworkers who were currently in the area or who had worked there previously. I posted on my Facebook and sent separate emails to colleagues. It was my friend Eleanor who actually referred me to my current job.
Surprisingly enough, although she lives and works in Georgia, she had gone on a legal mission trip to Uganda with a professor from OU Law. She emailed that professor, copying me on the email. The professor then wrote me back, copying OU's career development director. I took advantage of the opportunity and emailed the director myself. A few weeks and two interviews later, I was hired! It's amazing how far previous connections can take you.
3. Take advantage of LinkedIn and other social media outlets.
Before we made our big move, I updated my LinkedIn profile and use it to connect with alumni of my law school and friends of friends in the area. I was able to make an online introduction, and then meet some of the connections in person. I've learned it's important to offer an in-person meeting after making one online.
I found that people feel more invested once you've offered to take them out for coffee or lunch. Also, the in-person meeting allows you to ask more questions and receive even more insight into job opportunities.
4. Contact your school's career development office or alumni networks.
Lastly, do not forget your school's career development office and alumni networks. The career development counselors may have connections with other colleges or schools in the area and may be able to provide you with access to career workshops, on-campus interviews and job listings and events. Your school should have an alumni network in the area that hosts networking events. Also, those networks should have a list of alumni living in your new town with whom you can connect.
Job searching every two to three years is not without its challenges. Although technology tends to rule our world these days, most times it's the in-person connections that are the best way to find a new job. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there in order to learn of the best opportunities.
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