We’ve heard, (and given), a lot of job search advice over the years, often related to effective networking, staying organized, using technology, or preparing strong application materials. However, there’s a major aspect of the job search that is often overlooked by job seekers and career professionals alike – the power of an active support network. In this case, we’re not necessarily talking about your professional network, although there could be some overlap. Your support network includes trusted friends, family members, mentors, professors, classmates, and colleagues who may or may not know much about your field or your industry, but are personally invested in you and your success. These are the people who have come along side you to brain storm about choosing a major, stay up late to chat about whether or not to accept this internship or that, and go out of their way to encourage you when your job search is taking longer than you anticipated. These are the folks who may seem nosy, at times, checking in on you about your future plans and calling to make sure you’re eating well and getting enough exercise! For the most part, they are well-meaning; in fact, they are your secret weapon when it comes to your job or internship search.
As you know, the job search process has become increasingly competitive and is taking longer than ever (averaging 9 months!). In order to persist through the entire job search process, it’s vital that you engage your support network. These important supporters can help to keep you motivated when your job search is dragging on, when you’re questioning your abilities, or if you start to feel down on yourself. Here are a few ways you can keep your support network active on your behalf:
- Keep them informed on your progress: provide a list of the companies you’re targeting; let them know when you’re scheduled to interview; etc.
- Talk out your frustrations: while it’s not necessary to unload all your anxieties on your support network, it can be very encouraging to talk to at least one other person about the obstacles you may see in your way. A good friend or mentor may be able to help you identify ways to get past those obstacles.
- Allow your network to share in your successes: after making a new contact, finishing a great interview, or getting a job offer, share the good news.
- Express your gratitude: don’t neglect to say thanks to the people who have supported you along the way.
- Be supportive: some of the same people who have supported you may also be in a job search, or may find themselves looking for employment in the future. Remember to be an active member of their support network, too.