A good friend has referred you to someone about a possible employment opportunity with a virtual introduction via e-mail. This individual i.e., point of contact (POC), is quite emphatic that the opportunity will begin in the next 45 days and the vacancy must be filled immediately. You send all of the requisite information to the POC i.e., resume, writing sample, reference list, salary requirements. On your resume, you have also included a link to your profile on LinkedIn. The response that you receive is very favorable and you are invited to an interview. Now, you are really beginning to feel that this may be THE ONE because you have not been invited to be interviewed in more than a year and your only employment during the last 18 months has been temporary, part-time work. You prepare diligently. The interview, consisting of the POC and two of her colleagues, lasts for more than an hour and you believe that it went very well. You receive follow-up from the POC which confirms your belief and you are told that a decision will be made in the next two weeks. Two weeks come and go as do weeks three and four. You decide to communicate via e-mail with the POC but there is no reply. You remain hopeful because you have already calculated what the opportunity will, not would, do to help you to reduce the economic stress in your life, based on a salary that is significantly higher than what you presently earn as a part-time employee. Another two weeks go by and you decide to call. To your surprise, the POC answers the telephone but when she realizes that it is you, she sounds caught off guard. And, now, that sinking feeling has entered your consciousness before she utters another word because you have been down this road more times than you care to remember. She continues by saying, “Oh, hi, I was going to call you today.” This statement confirms that your apprehension is not unwarranted. She continues by saying, “We were really impressed by your credentials, work experience and enthusiasm but we decided to select another candidate…” The POC continues to talk but you have already tuned her out, mentally. You thank her for the update and get off of the telephone quickly. You feel anger and slight betrayal, but more anger, at yourself, for putting all of your hope into a single opportunity, again.
If the aforementioned sounds familiar, this is a scenario that is being repeated around the country among millions of people, in spite of the narrative of an economy that is in recovery. The inability to find and secure an employment opportunity that is commensurate with your training, credentialing and skills can be very humbling, infuriating and scary. But, in spite of what was described in the previous paragraph, my question to you is: AND NOW, WHAT ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO?
Perhaps it is time to do some mingling, professionally. A great place to start is strategically selecting and attending meetings and conferences of the associations in your profession. These may include local chapter meetings of a larger national association which may hold meetings several times a year or, the national association’s major conference which typically meets annually. For the time being, it does not matter if your association dues may have lapsed or you have never been a member of the association. Your focus is to be proactive and reclaim your power by communicating and interacting with colleagues in a face-to-face (f2f) setting, rather than virtually. So, brush off the lethargy that may have set in because of numerous rejections from potential employers and do your homework by reviewing the presenters and topic listings for the conference(s). There is often a reception or forum at the beginning of a conference that non-registrants can attend, albeit discretely, so be sure to make an appearance and take business cards with you. Hotel lobbies and lounges, especially for national conferences, are good places to see conference attendees and to be seen. You are likely to see people that you know so be upbeat, cordial and do not forget to smile. Should the question arise (and it probably will) about your current endeavors, you could say, “I’m keeping busy but I am always interested in learning about new opportunities for growth and advancement.” This does not imply that you are unemployed but it does convey an openness to exploring options in the job market. Who knows, you might encounter a person with whom you have had no contact in years, rekindle a connection and be led straight to a great opportunity that you did not know existed. As a result, this person could turn out to be your sponsor but it will never happen if you decide to remain at home and not to be in the room. So, when you can, choose to BE IN THE ROOM and see what happens.