Career Management

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Phase 2, Step 8 - Develop Your Professional Network

This is the most important step for you because all of the effort and work you put into Steps 1-7 has prepared you for face-to-face connections (aka informationals). Gathering firsthand knowledge should be a lifelong process and the relationships you cultivate could become long-term professional relationships, which you may value for life.

Develop your network. In this step you will work on cultivating relationships with people who work in your field and industries of interest. There are certain questions that cannot be answered by online reading only. Your network will help you gain first-hand knowledge about these questions. This step is also for learning more about your field of choice in order to position yourself well in interviews and ultimately making the right choices for you. This step is rarely complete and should be considered an important part of your career growth. You should continuously talk with people working in your field to learn and grow and share best practices. These are considered “informationals”. They are typically a 30-minute in person meeting – most are very casual. When you follow up with people you met with previously, it can be a simple phone call or email outreach.

For your job search, its important to keep networking until secure a job or you are 100% convinced of what you want to do, know how and where you can add value and know specifically what you need to add to your resume to be a great candidate. Some of this information can be gleaned online, but getting out and talking with people face-to-face will help you further refine your interests.

Deliverable for GSM5108: From the previous three steps, you should have identified at least 15 people of interest to learn more about (you may include those contacts with whom you connected at various career events).  Schedule meetings with at least 10 of these people; ideally one per week through the end of the semester.  Work with your PCA to schedule the first few meetings.  By the end of the semester, you should have completed 10 informational meetings.

Questions to ask yourself:
1.    What job titles are appropriate for my background and experience? What might I aspire to long term?
2.    How is this job different in various industries and sectors?
3.    What are some actual career paths? What do I need to do to get considered for promotions? How long does it take in this economy for people to find work in this field?
4.    What qualifications do people have that are being hired at a selection of companies?
5.    Is that different from the job description qualifications? Will the qualifications change as the economy improves?
6.    How can I improve my resume to be considered for work at specific companies?
7.    How do people really get jobs in this field?
8.    When and how should I be prepared to start the application process?
9.    What are growth sectors for this job? How can I position myself for these jobs?
10.    What salary should I expect in this economy and for my background and experience?

Going Deeper:
•    Segment your field into possible job titles (Finance = Financial Analyst, Portfolio Manager, Investment Banker, Credit Analyst, Controller, Associate, Financial Planner etc). Rule out the job titles that are not of interest based on your online research.
•    Reach out to your network and ask for referrals to people with these job titles. Meet with your Career Coach or your PCA for connections to people with the job titles you are unable to locate within your own network.
•    Search LinkedIn for people with the job titles and ask for connections. NOTE: There is an appropriate etiquette for reaching out, check with your PCA if this is new to you.
•    Contact 3-5 people at a time and ask to meet for lunch or coffee to discuss what they do. Learn about their work field. Draft notes to refer back to later. You will need to talk with 10 to 20 people in this section.
•    Before the meeting, do online research about their company and background. Draft a list of specific questions you have that you cannot find answers to online.
•    After your meeting, send a hand-written thank you note within 24 hours of the meeting.
•    Draft personal notes of your informational and what the next follow up might be for this person. Track your meetings in Outlook or in a spreadsheet. ASK your contact how you might be of help to them.


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