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Job seekers need to network

Getting a job in a tough economy isn't just about what job seekers know but who they know.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Getting a job in a tough economy isn't just about what job seekers know but who they know.

Mel Trimble suddenly found himself having to network for a new job after being laid off from the auto-parts manufacturing company where he'd worked for 25 years.

"You never really plan for those sort of events, but as you meet these opportunities and challenges, you take it in stride," he said.

Trimble tapped into Career Pro Inc. in Raleigh to sharpen his skills.

Company President John O'Connor said he tells all of his clients that strong networking is key to a job search.

"One of the best ways to network is to go to association events or industry-specific seminars," he said.

That way job seekers can meet potential bosses before jobs are even posted and show how they can help businesses, O'Connor said.

"You have to have that value proposition, respect and authenticity," he said.

For new graduates, those skills can seem overwhelming. Career counselor Carol Schroeder helps guide North Carolina State University students.

"Go and find the people who will talk to you," Schroeder advised. "They might be alumni. They might be former employers. They might be somebody you met on campus during an interview. Ask for assistance."

Experts say that in this market, job seekers have to get creative and tap into resources, including using social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

"Social networking to me is not just social networking; its professional networking," O'Connor said.

Whether interacting with potential employers online or face-to-face, always keep it professional, he said.

"When you are in a job search, you are usually under some kind of emotional or financial pressure," he said. "But that cannot come across in your interactions, because that puts pressure on the other person."

Trimble said that after 13 months on the job hunt, he hopes his new networking skills pay off soon.

"I'll just stick my hand out, introduce myself and see how our goals line up," he said.


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