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Reaching Out to Former Colleagues During Your Career Search

Posted by Kathleen Smith

As part of a career search, you will obviously try to reach out to former colleagues. Recently, I was contacted by someone I had not heard from in over 20 years. We had worked in the Washington DC area in the mid-eighties in completely different fields and had both left DC for a number of years. 

I remember my colleague as bright and driven and as someone I respected very much but was slightly taken aback by our recent reconnection. I like to keep in touch with people even if they have moved on to other fields just because I appreciate friendships. My phone call with my friend, however, was rather awkward; even blunt and uncomfortable. I realized my friend was extremely disappointed in their job search efforts and was quite desperate to find a job.

With this knowledge, I gave them a few pointers about their LinkedIn profile and some of other social media tools that they might want to look at.

Here is an excerpt of the email message I sent my friend as it pertains to their job search:

1)   Realize that LinkedIn is used by recruiters and managers to find new employees. Not only is it now used as a quick way to check references, it is a job board. Bottom line is that you need to significantly expand your profile beyond just listing the positions titles that you have had. Your profile should be a significantly expanded version of your resume with keywords and phrases that recruiters and managers would search on. Your expanded profile then will also show up in Google search. To maintain high relevance you will also want to update your profile every other week with key words and phrases.

2)   Participate in LinkedIn Groups – In LinkedIn you can join up to 50 groups. I sent you a recommendation of a group that you might want to join. Try others and as many as you can. This will i) expand your network ii) you will find out about news and information and iii) jobs are posted in the groups because posting them in the groups is free for the recruiters.

3)   LinkedIn Events – Be sure you are checking the LinkedIn events for networking opportunities.

4)   Develop Your Profile as Being an Expert – In LinkedIn there is a Questions & Answers section. You will want to start answering questions in your field of expertise to i) expand your network ii) increase your search capabilities iii) each time you answer a question those in your network are notified.

5)   Facebook– I haven’t searched Facebook for your profile but I am willing to bet that you are not on there as I am sure you think that social networking is a bunch of hogwash. Sorry my friend. If you want a job in this area, you better engage in social networking for business. On Facebook, there are industry groups and events, again expanding your networking.

6)   Other social media to think about: Twitter. Think about setting up an account for your professional services and follow people who are leaders in your industry so that you are keeping abreast of key trends.

7)   Blogging – Be sure you are following bloggers in your industry and comment on their blogs.

8)   Find another activity. – You sound desperate, and desperate people make managers and recruiters run for the hills. You need to expand your skills — any skills doing anything else- that at least keeps the mind, body and soul moving, creating and innovating. Here is a video on Staying Positive in Your Job Search.

Reaching out to former colleagues is part of a job search but trend lightly on what you are looking for and how you approach them. It was very clear that the only reason my friend wanted to reconnect with me was to find a job which was very disappointing.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 11:12 am

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