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We know that there’s no magic wand to career change, but we also know that you don’t have to do it alone. Other people are a vital ingredient in the success of your career transition.

After all, they say it’s relationships, not resumés, that get people jobs these days.


woman looking at montage of faces - emphasising importance of relationships

Who do you know?

Coming from Dunedin, I used to think that it was the ‘Dunedin thing’, where people got jobs because they knew people. But it’s actually how the modern job search works everywhere.  Employers tend to hire people they know, or people who know people they know. Why? Employers like to minimise their risk, and even a tentative link through someone known to them comes with a certain amount of endorsement for that candidate.

Building positive relationships

As outlined in an earlier blog article, Intentional Serendipity – How to Make Your Own Luck as a Job Seeker, sometimes this process happens through being in the right place at the right time and talking to the right person.

Talking with people and building positive relationships is often what leads people into opportunities for employment. Job hunters should be on the lookout for ‘people’ just as actively as looking for a job, or work.

Weak Ties

New opportunities often come from what are called our weak ties, our friends of friends of friends. As so many jobs are never advertised, making contact with your neighbour’s boss or your brother’s best mate’s hockey coach might be how you get that unadvertised job. It’s not cheating. It’s the science of how information spreads.

How to help others to help you

People can’t help you with your career transition if they don’t know you’re trying to do it. So how can you spread the word about what are your ambitions and aspirations? Sometimes it requires a more deliberate and calculated effort.

1.      Be proactive

Make a list of who you know and who can you talk to and start making yourself and your intentions known. The more you talk to people you know about what you are aiming for, the more it will take shape within your own mind and the minds of others. The encouragement, questions and feedback you get will help you to affirm what it is you want and may result in new leads for you to pursue.

2.      Expand your connections

Keep an eye out for interesting people. Who could you reasonably strike up a conversation with, and ask about their work? Cultivate curiosity in the lives and perspectives of other people. The more people you get to know, the more people will know you.

3.      Be real

As you embark on this journey to grow your circle of contacts, know that not everyone will be able to help you. Even though your focus is on finding a new job or opportunity, you need to be authentic in your dealings with others. People will soon figure out you are not genuine if you come across as only interested in yourself and not in them. Be considerate of others and their needs as well as your own. Remember also to enjoy the process of getting to know others and being a real participant in lives of those in your community.

It’s not only what you know – or even who you know – but also who knows you.

Sue Graham is a professional career counselor and career advice specialist based in Dunedin, Otago. If you would like to know more about the Social Job Search or some help with finding your next role, Contact Sue here

More articles about the Social Job Search:

The Social Job Search – how to find work when there are ‘no jobs’

Finding a job in the invisible job market

Intentional Serendipity – how to make your own luck as a job seeker