Searching For a Job? Start by Looking For Former Colleagues

Are you looking for a job? If so, then you might be facing a large amount of competition. More than 10% of the United States’ population is currently unemployed. That disturbing figure makes the prospect of landing a new job look a little bleak.

During such difficult times we could all use some help, which is why this is the perfect time to reconnect with coworkers from your past. A former colleague may be able to provide a strong reference, good recommendation or even a positive referral that can help you get your foot in the door.

Most people work for several different companies throughout their professional career. When you think back on all the people you’ve worked with at each of your previous positions, you are likely to discover a large number of individuals who could be part of your current professional network.

One of the biggest concerns people express when debating whether or not to reach out to someone from their past is how that person will react. You may not have talked to former coworkers for many years, but relax, they haven’t contacted you either. People lose touch for a variety of reasons: new jobs, growing families, moves to different states and the hectic pace of life.

The good news is that most people are happy to hear from old friends and colleagues. They are likely to be just as happy to hear from you as you are from them – and to add you to their own professional network.

Before you start reaching out to people, take a little time to consider the feelings and possible reactions of others. If you are only asking for a favor, you may not get a very warm reception. Take a moment to talk with each person, explain your situation, ask for tips and suggestions, express your gratitude to those who offer help of any kind, and remember that networking works both ways… be willing to help others when you can.

If it’s been a long time since you’ve talked to the people you once worked with, you may need to start by finding them online. A good place to begin is with a Google search, but sometimes the number of results you get back can be overwhelming.

Another option for finding colleagues is to use a networking website such as Linked In. This site is used by millions of business professionals throughout the world. If you have your own profile, you can search for people you worked with directly or indirectly and invite them to join your professional network. Linked In also provides an option for people who once worked together to write recommendations for each other, which can be another useful resource for job seekers.

Of course not everyone has a profile on a business networking site, but you can also find former colleagues using a “People Search” website like PeopleFinders.com. This is a site that provides public records, and it can be used to obtain current addresses, phone numbers and other contact information.

Once you have found people from your past, spend a little time catching up, but also let them know your situation. Don’t expect anyone to have the perfect job just waiting for you, but you never know who may be able to help with a suggestion, insider tip or a good reference. The more people you add to your network, the better your chances become of hearing about a prospective job opening, and of being able to help others.

Whether you’ve lost your job, or are looking for a better career, there are several things you can do to improve your prospects. Review your resume and make sure it is geared towards the position you hope to land, practice your interview skills, reach out to friends and colleagues who can help each other along the way, and just keep trying. Things are tough economically, but there are still great jobs available.

By Nate Waymire. Good luck with your job search!

BoomersNextStep Guest Author

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