With a Little Bit of Help from my Network

Only once have I left a job for another: my first job out of undergrad, and no one expected me to stay long. I was in that second job for almost 5 years before returning to school for my M.S. As of last Friday, I have successfully completed a job search that took up the better part of the past year; I start at UMASS – Boston in a few weeks as Graduation Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office.

As I looked for my new job, I happily tweaked and re-tweaked my resume for each application, excited to show how my tasks and projects fit my potential new role. Inevitably, my resume became good enough, and my heart sank as I came to the next stage: THE COVER LETTER (read that in a deep, doomy voice).

I loathe cover letters. Maybe it’s my J, but really, why isn’t my resume good enough? Alright, I get it, but not enough to be happy about it. For this latest search, I reached out to @ceciliah & @ammamarfo, 2 women I respect for their professionalism and writing abilities, and asked them to review my letter. This was much more nerve-wracking than one might think–I have trouble asking for help, and KNEW it was terrible, so I felt I was bothering both of these people I respect personally and professionally. Both were gracious and incredibly helpful however, and garnered these replied from me:

“It’s funny how, as I read your comments/edits, I kept saying ‘wow, why didn’t I think of that?'”

“I think I’m too close & dis-enchanted to really make it sound like this job was special, which in turn makes me seem unspecial”

Then, THE INTERVIEWS

I’m always terrified to interview. My wife wishes she could interview for me because I’m terrible at talking to new people and am downright horrific about tooting my own horn. Thankfully, right before I began the round of post-house purchasing interviews, I read the most amazing and important bog post by AnneMarie Klotz:  The Things We Do Not Say…and Why It Hurts Our Profession. The first half of her post: Nailed It thanks to my coaches. I’m sure AnneMarie would provide a lot of feedback and critique if I were to practice interview with her, but I dug deep and found my truths, which I think helped me land this job.

Why am I making this post, and linking to all of these women? Because it illustrates a few things:

  • A Network is important: and a network does not necessarily mean in person. Almost all interaction I have with Amma is virtual; I have never met Annemarie in my life (I have the benefit of [currently] working in the same office as Cecilia). Following people on Twitter, or reading their blogs can actually influence your life for the better. Sometimes the help is direct, sometimes indirect, but be open to learning something
  • Ask for help: I will always struggle with this, but this experience has made strides in reminding me how important it is to get others’ opinions and ideas. I have a lot of trouble with group projects and collaborations, but in the right instances and with the right people, magic can happen
  • BE YOU: I admitted my struggles in the job search department to these women, and they embraced me and lifted me up. That encouraged me to be forthcoming in my interviews with my real weaknesses not those I thought the interviewer wanted to hear.
  • Pay it back/forward: I’ve since helped 2 people with their resumes, have offered to serve as a reference to 2 others, and will do so again if/when the opportunity arises. Networking is a big struggle for me, but small gestures cultivate relationships and empower both the giver and receiver.

How has your network benefited you in ways you didn’t expect? Have you actually used and/or cultivated your network?

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth
    Aug 19, 2013 @ 19:57:42

    Ah, such a timely post, and I want to enthusiastically agree with you on the value of a network. I am grappling with my job search for more concrete reasons (incomplete degree, minimal hands-on experience), but I’ve been able to build up a network that has helped by providing job search advice, uncovering the hidden job market, and serving as references. Networking can be difficult to get started, but once it gathers momentum, it’s so helpful. Your reminder to pay it back and forward is also crucial–thanks for posting!

    Reply

  2. LetmebeRae
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 00:29:04

    Great tips especially the pay it back and forward one. It’s good to always help others out especially when you’ve been where they have been. That’s why I think everyone should have some kind of service goal to help others in some kind of way. I talk about mine on my blog and I got a long way to goal to effectively fulfill the one I have. But anyway, let me not start talking about it or I will leave an essay in your comment box! lol
    lovethyintrovert.com

    Reply

  3. kelizsmith
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 10:39:18

    Way to go! So happy for you and for taking risks! So her Girl Scout of you. 😀

    Reply

  4. therealjoelp
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 10:59:17

    Jessi, congrats on the new job! Connect with Geoff Combs there at UMass Boston, he is an awesome guy and professional… and have him brainwash you immediately into ACUI, or I can do that if need be haha!

    Reply

    • Jessi
      Aug 20, 2013 @ 11:26:52

      Thanks for the connection suggestion! And isn’t ACUI more geared toward Student Activities-types? I’m not sure a Registration person fits…we’ll have to meet, and talk.

      Reply

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