Hello fellow Kossacks in Bay Area, California (and others around the U.S.):
As you've seen the new job numbers that have been reported for last month, there are the headlines:
Unemployment rate falls to lowest level since 2008
Hiring picked up in February, helping to bring the unemployment rate down to its lowest level since December 2008.
The U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs in February, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. That's much stronger growth than in January, when employers hired a revised 119,000 workers.
The gains were broad-based as offices, restaurants, construction firms and hospitals all added jobs.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dipped to 7.7%, as 12 million workers were counted as unemployed. The drop was partly because more people said they got jobs, but also because 130,000 people dropped out of the labor force.
The increase in jobs and decrease in the unemployment rate were better than expected. Stocks rose modestly in early trading Friday, with the Dow hitting yet another record high.
However, if there's one thing I never hear people talk about in the news, it's effective networking that leads to better connections and long term prospects whereas going on job boards and going to job fairs consumes too much time. I don't mean to say you have to play everything by chance but it is possible, thanks to the Internet, to do effective networking better and actually build connections without having to depend on who you currently know.
Yes, believe it or not, networking is one of the most uncovered news topics there is and given that there are still lots of job vacancies these days and companies are under the notion they can't find enough qualified workers to fill the positions, well, how are you going to get the best results from people who send in responses to job postings online? You're dealing with a random pool of people who apply but you never meet these candidates in advance.
Basically, interviews are being set up as blind dates with candidates so they can talk about themselves and how their skills apply for the positions. Of course, the candidates haven't met the hiring managers yet so you never know what direction the end result will be based on not meeting the decision makers and staff in advance. We've all been through interviews that sucked or that the people in the company didn't end up choosing us because we didn't have the right "qualifications" or "experience."
So that's why, based on being on the job search myself and having doing networking in the Bay Area, there are opportunities to network and develop connections in various industries these days that never existed before.
First thing to be aware of: While networking doesn't immediately ensure one of a job offering, it ends up allowing you to build connections over time (so long as the real relationship building is done over time) where the likely hood of a job offering is greater than one where you spend all the time applying for positions online or go to general career fair expos. In any of these scenarios, many people are applying for the same position because they are looking for work. I know I used to apply for positions online from 2006-2007 and while the economy was better then, I still got less feedback. Nowadays of course applying for jobs online is like pulling teeth.
However, in a number of various networking events, opportunities exist to connect with professionals in the workforce where you take the pressure off of the online job application process and you end up marketing yourself in an opportunity where you aren't applying for a position but you are promoting yourself in a way that can be more attractive than say being on the computer and seeing a position posted at say Wells Fargo or even Testa Motors's website. By networking, you have met the representatives already and they know who you are.
In the online world, no one really knows who you are, even with user profiles. That's why it's important to take advantage of sites such as Eventbrite, Meetup and yes, even LinkedIn to maximize your networking potential.
As a result, I've uncovered some good events and resources to help fellow Bay Area Kossacks to be more productive:
San Francisco Professional Career Network:
Meets every Tuesday at 9 am and ends at 11 am
Location: 390 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA
Details: Group is very supportive, both with employed professionals and unemployed across the board. Good speakers and professional networking and career experts. No B.S.
Cost: $1 donation suggested but not required. Event free otherwise
The Art of Active Networking
Meets at least twice every month on Mondays from 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Location: The Box SF, 1069 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA.
Details: Very friendly and productive group, food and drinks provided complimentary of host. Very good, solid connections, depending on industry. I've made some good connections with folks at Cisco and other companies here. People gather at a table in one event and share their stories. It's a nice, comfortable environment.
Cost: $15 in advance but worth it.
Meets every Saturday from 9 am - 11:30 am
Location: Community Presbyterian Church, 222 West El Pintado, Danville, CA
Details: Free event. All for people who are job seekers and need support. Very supportive and friendly group of people. Number of people who have worked in all sorts of industries are looking to get back on their feet and have been to these events for guidance.
There are also LinkedIn groups I recommend joining:
Downtown San Francisco Networking Group
LinkedIn San Francisco Bay Area Group
The bottom line is that it's best not to be alone. And so if you have the opportunity, why not network while you're applying for jobs online? The above links are a good path to start. I know when I first started looking for positions after my previous one ended in August 2012, the first two months were mostly applying online and dealing with recruiters.
However, the whole picture changed my perspective upon attending one of the networking meetings via the groups above that I mentioned. As a result, I network regularly and have a total of 261 LinkedIn connections in a few months, very legitimate ones, whereas back in August 2012 I only had 80.
I know being a regular Kossack myself and a progressive, a number of people here are skeptical and cynical and I understand that. Believe me, I've been through your situation. Either you're in a blue collar background or you're a regular business professional working at a bank or marketing company who got let go with no fault of your own. More of us nowadays go through that experience than before.
However, networking the right way can help. If say you're a Kossack in the Bay Area and want some networking tips, I can point you in the right direction.
Any of you fellow Kossacks in general know of any job support groups, websites and networking opportunities for others to turn to? Always good to help our fellow Kossack friends out.