How to End the Cycle of Poverty

In 2014, the official overall poverty rate in the United States was at almost 15 percent. For children under the age of 18 years old, that statistic jumped significantly to more than 21 percent—almost a full quarter of our nation’s children. We have heard the phrase “cycle of poverty” repeated for so long at this point that we have forgotten just how very real the struggle to be financially stable is. And that is just in America. Today, over a quarter of the world’s population—so somewhere around 1.8 billion people—still don’t earn enough to have reliable access to food. And a billion people are “extremely poor,” earning less than $1.25 a day.

The numbers simply don’t lie: adults who remain in financially challenging situations pass these same obstacles down to their children and this pattern continues on through the generations. So how do we begin to change these numbers to tell a different truth? What would a world without poverty really look like?

When Dress for Success was first established, we were very much a welfare-to-work organization. Over the years, the face of the Dress for Success woman has changed—she can hold a Bachelor’s degree just as often as she could hold a benefits card (sometimes she is even the owner of both!)—but the fact still remains that we as a society have much to do to eradicate poverty and expedite the economic independence of those in our global community who are so eagerly striving to obtain it.

An undeniable barrier facing poverty is, quite frankly, getting jobs that pay living wages. Workers are finding it difficult to maintain themselves and their families because the only employment they’re able to secure are positions that pay them below what they need to simply survive—let  alone thrive—as productive members of society. In order to elevate the economic status of our lower income peers around the world, we need to find a way to increase their wages.

Millions of men and women are working low paying jobs as maintenance workers, janitors, taxi drivers, waitresses and other occupations in the restaurant/fast food industry. These are necessary roles that must be filled to maintain the quality of our collective life, but jobs such as these offer shockingly low wages and little—if any—benefits. And let’s not forget that most of these positions are only offered on a part-time basis. Many employers hire several part-time positions because having a high quantity of staff is still less expensive than having to provide benefits and paid time off to full-time employees, even though the quality of work arguably suffers. Whether part-time or full-time, all workers should be compensated with a wage that allows them to provide for themselves and their families, as well as to plan for their future—to those inevitable days that will come where they simply are not able to work any longer, be it due to an emergency or a planned retirement.

Once we see the wage increase that our global society so desperately needs, we need to ensure that it’s implemented justly across the board. As we all know, despite how far we’ve come with women’s equality, women are still paid more than 30% less than men here in the U.S. for doing the same work.

In 2014, the median income for women who worked full time was $39,621 compared to that of men which was $50,383. Due to the wage gap, it’s no surprise why a great amount of women fall into poverty. This is a problem that all businesses must rectify, however, the ability to make an impact does not solely fall on the institution. Working women can do their part by allowing their voices to be heard, asking for raises or promotions based on the value and performance they bring to their jobs. Yet women tend to shy away from such situations because of the fear that it will be detrimental to their careers. Speaking up and taking initiative is perceived to be a risky endeavor. A recent article in The New Yorker shows that when women take the initiative to ask, being assertive and authoritative, they are often seen in a negative light. They are perceived as “tough” and employers are less inclined to work with them.  We need to create infrastructures and environments that encourage more women to speak up for what they want and receive what they rightfully deserve. Closing the gender gap alone would cut poverty in half for working women and their families.

Unequal pay and low wages are just a few of the many challenges we face in poverty. Women who fall into poverty are often also caregivers—workers who are mothers caring for their children and also at times their sick or aging relatives. The hurdle they face is the lack of policies to support them. Among advanced economies, the U.S. stands alone in not mandating for paid leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act. When caregiving duties call and a woman must take time off from her job, the result can be a drastic reduction in her paid work hours.  One can imagine the conflict faced in deciding whether to stay to earn the money from the job she needs or take leave because of the necessity of caring for an elderly family member or a young child. Not having paid leave creates fear of financial security— anxiety of whether she can make enough money in spite of the other challenges in her life.  As a result, after an absence from the workplace, a women is less likely to return, leaving her struggling to find a new career path and leaving a company scrambling to fill a new position and train a new hire.

Out of 185 countries, the U.S. stands with Oman and Papua New Guinea, both developing nations, in not granting paid maternity leave. Some of the developed nations that do offer paid maternity leave include the United Kingdom, which offers 40 weeks, and Vietnam and Ireland, both offering 26 weeks. Research shows that paid maternity leave of up to five months increases mothers’ employment. More women will enter and remain in the workforce as a result of paid maternity leave. Providing employees with paid leave is vital because it fosters a workplace culture in which mothers and caregivers belong in the work world. A study based on California employees and employers provides evidence of this phenomenon. Workers with low-quality jobs who used family leave insurance were more likely to return to their employer: 82.7% of workers who used paid leave returned, compared to 73% who did not have paid leave.

Wage increases, pay equality and paid family leave are all major issues to tackle, but I think that we as a society are up to the challenge. As the saying goes, “there’s no better time than right now,” especially as we see more women becoming the main providers for their families and as more women are aspiring for greater leadership positions throughout all sectors of industry. Plainly put, every aspect of the world suffers when the employment rate is low and the poverty rate is high, and we have suffered long enough.

So what does a world without poverty look like? It’s a world where every child has an education and is able to read because they don’t have to drop out of school to earn money for their family. It’s a world where family structures are strong and sustainable because parents are afforded the time away from work that it takes to lay a solid foundation on which the family can be built. It’s a world where workers are happy to perform their jobs, which leads to higher rates of production and better quality work. It’s a world where women have a true voice because they are provided with infrastructures that empower and support them, which leads to more women in leadership and more profitable companies.

Achieving a world like this requires the efforts of everyone. It requires us all to advocate for the government to perform its duties by ensuring that it implements policies that serve to help all people. We need to be vocal about the need to maximize programs and policies that empower women because empowering women worldwide is not just a win for women, it’s a win for everyone—and it’s a huge leap forward in eradicating poverty across the globe.

What Are Some Great Jobs for Your Personality Type?

Is there a way that your personality can determine your dream job for you? The folks at CollegeMatchUp.net seem to think so. These crafty creatives have brought the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to life with the below infographic.

And if you’re thinking to yourself “the Myers-Brigss WHAT?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you! The MBTI was created by a mother-daughter team some years ago to make the theory of psychological types understandable and useful in people’s lives, the key word being “useful.” Once you’ve determined your personality type, you can apply that to job industries where those characteristics might be most fitting. So if you’re an admin assistant that secretly yearns to be a nurse, there may be more method to that madness than you think!

Find out what your personality type is here and then see what careers CollegeMatchUp.net thinks might be best for you:

The Best Jobs for your Personality Type
Source: CollegeMatchup.net

Dear DFS: How Do I Look for Work During the Holidays?

Dear DFS, 

I was laid off last month and have been tirelessly searching for a new position in my field, but unfortunately, no luck yet. I am starting to get concerned that I will not have a job before the New Year and I know companies aren’t focused on hiring during the holidays. How can I continue to be productive in my job search over the next couple months?  

Thank you for your help, 

Alexis

Nashville, TN

Dear Alexis,

We wish you much SUCCESS on your job search and know how difficult this transition can be.  It sounds like you have a goal to find a job by December 31st!  You are already motivating yourself to stay focused and move forward!  It’s easy to say you are searching for a new job, but by giving yourself a deadline – it will keep you motivated in trying to find a new career.

Here are just a few tips to stay focused and motivated to move yourself forward:

Make a plan.

Have you researched area companies you are interested in working with?   Are there any job fairs coming up in your area?  Are there any corporations expanding or looking for new employees?  Retailers, restaurants and hotels are currently hiring for temporary holiday employees. It may open a door to something new, keep you busy during this time of year and/or lead you to new connections in your community or industry. Here is a recent article regarding the upcoming 2014 4th Quarter: http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2014/10/02/seasonal-hiring-full-time-jobs-boost/

Do your research.

Companies may look great on paper or sound great to talk about – but have you actually talked to employees that work there?  Find out what the culture is like within the organization.  Are you focused on staying in Nashville or are you open to moving to a new community in Tennessee or outside of Tennessee?

Sometimes a foot in the door is well… a foot in the door. One of my first jobs out of college was working as a receptionist at a financial institution.  I then found other opportunities available within the company.  By year two, I had moved up to the cashier position: balancing and depositing incoming checks and stock certificates for client accounts. By year three, I had been offered a position as a sales associate: working with the brokers and clients and preparing portfolios for account reviews. Year four, I studied for and passed my Series 7 test and became a registered sales associate. Year five, I moved over to a new company and found a job I absolutely loved and looked forward to everyday. I loved working with the broker and the clients.

I eventually “retired” from the corporate world and became a stay-at-home mom.  While looking for a place to donate my suits, I found Dress for Success and Des Moines was a targeted area to launch an affiliate. Four years later, I am glad I had the opportunity to find a new passion and be surrounded by so many dedicated people in the community.  When one door closes another one is opening.

Stay connected and have your elevator speech ready.

Are you using LinkedIn?  Have you attended any networking groups in your area (Chamber meetings, Business Networking and Referrals, Referral Leaders International groups)?  Have you been invited to any parties, fundraisers or other events?  When you were employed at your last position, did you have contacts with other companies?  Do you have friends or family at companies you are interested in applying for positions?  Do you volunteer with any local organizations?  It looks like a local Dress for Success in Nashville is in the start-up phase.  Feel free to reach out to them to see how you can help get the doors open. It will show your next employer you are helping in your community during this transition period and staying engaged. Or find another organization to help volunteer with. Many organizations love a commitment of just a few hours a week; it will keep you motivated and give you something to look forward to while you are searching for your new job.

Any time you are networking or at an event and people ask what you do, be ready to respond with a 30-second pitch!  Sell yourself!  And be specific!  Connections may open the door for you, but they need to know what you are looking for. They may know of a position opening at their company and/or have some good contacts for you.  Make sure to thank them for taking the time to listen and remind them to keep you posted on any new opportunities (by email is great and keep it brief!).

Social media.

If you are using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to make connections – remember – your future employer may also use these tools as well.  Do not post things on social media you would not want your future boss to know about you.

Being laid-off from a position is a difficult transition, but stay positive!  This could be just the break you need to find a new passion, to meet new people and to open a new door.

To your SUCCESS,

 Jody White

Executive Director, Founding Partner

Dress for Success Des Moines

How Networking Works

Guest Post by Reesa Staten of Robert Half

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature,

he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

Recently, I accepted an invitation to attend an industry conference in Chicago. I rarely go to these events because my job in California takes so much of my time. But I was curious to meet the people at this particular meeting because they hold roles similar to my own. It was a chance to compare notes on our jobs and make new connections.

Networking doesn’t come second nature to me. But connections do. Career experts will often tell you to “keep moving” when you are at a networking event or reception: make small talk, share a few things about yourself, exchange cards and go on to the next person. That never works for me. I like to connect with the people I meet by finding common ground, sharing a personal story, looking for ways I can use my experience to help the other person, or vice versa. I may spend the majority of my networking time speaking to just a handful of people.

This approach doesn’t work for everyone. It might not even work for the majority. But it feels right to me. And that is exactly the point. You need to find the networking style that best fits your personality. I like to get to know people, and I’m not thinking about how they can benefit me professionally — not immediately that is. Later when I reflect on our conversations, those opportunities to ask for advice or assistance invariably surface. I’m convinced this wouldn’t happen if I hadn’t taken the time to make a genuine connection. When I do, the door is wide open.

When you network, meeting new people is part of the process, but don’t forget your own self-interests. If you are in the job market, make sure you let people know. If you’re currently employed but exploring new job opportunities, let them know that, too.

A recent OfficeTeam survey of senior managers found that not asking others for help is the top networking mistake people make. Failing to keep in touch with contacts and not thanking the people who help you were also common pitfalls.

If you’re not yet confident networking, here are few tips to increase your comfort level:

1. Leave no stone unturned. Don’t rely solely on formal networking events or social media to broaden your list of contacts. Everywhere you go, you have an opportunity to make new connections that could lead you to your next big thing. Look at even chance encounters as opportunities for networking.

2. Nurture your network. Keep connections alive by checking in with your contacts periodically. Networking should be a process, not a one-time event. If you see something in the news you know would be interesting to people you know, share it with them. If you learn of a job that seems right for someone, pass that information along, too.

3. Don’t procrastinate. You should follow up with people within a week of meeting them and ideally sooner. That way, your conversation is still top of mind. If someone contacts you, respond quickly to show your interest in keeping in touch.

4. Be courteous. Don’t make networking all about you by constantly pushing your agenda. Not everyone you meet is in a position to help you, nor will they always have time to stop everything and hear you out. Treat new connections like you would any new friendship by being friendly, diplomatic and open. You’ll be rewarded with a more loyal network.

5. Perfect your grip. Networking may not come naturally to you. If you’re afraid or embarrassed to meet new people in a business setting, have more career-related conversations with people you already know. It will give you practice describing what you are looking for and what you can do. The more you have these conversations, the more confident you will be when you meet someone who could more directly influence your job prospects.

When we are very young, making new friends comes easily. But as we grow older, insecurities emerge that chip away at our confidence. Just remember that other people have the same insecurities — and the same desire to make connections — that you do. Take your cue from your 5-year-old self, and don’t be afraid to start a new conversation. If you’re positive and genuine, the people you meet will be happy not only to make a connection with you but also to invite you into their network. That’s how networking works!

Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at reesa@roberthalf.com.

Dear DFS: How Do I Avoid Age Becoming a Factor in my Interviews?

Dear DFS,

I have been working in the same career for many years, but was just recently laid off. Now I am on the job search again, and I’m interviewing with people who are half my age. I haven’t been making it to the second round of interviews, and I think I may be coming off wrong to these prospective employers, but it’s hard when you feel like the person interviewing you could be your kid.  How can I change how I’m perceived in these interviews?

Thanks,

Jan, Baltimore

Dear Jan,

First, I would like to congratulate you on landing an interview!  This is a chance for you to begin developing relationships with hiring managers/key personnel in your industry and affords you the opportunity to showcase your talents and brand face-to-face.  I understand that you are concerned that your age may be considered a negative factor, however, I believe this can be turned into a positive attribute.  I advise you to consider a three-pronged approach to interviewing.

First and foremost, a positive attitude is essential!  If you are approaching the interview with a negative outlook (i.e. they will automatically dismiss me because of my age, this hiring manager is young enough to be my child/grandchild) it will be evident.  No one is interested in hiring someone with a chip on their shoulder.  Conversely, if you are open-minded with a positive attitude, you will come across as approachable and friendly.  Who would you rather have on your team: someone who is grumpy or someone who is energetic and enthusiastic?

Second, make sure that your skills are current.  Often, people feel discriminated against solely because of their age, when in fact, their lack of up-to-date skills is the real barrier to getting hired.  You should objectively examine your skills/abilities against the hiring criteria and ask yourself if you are up to the task.  If not, consider taking classes to bring yourself up to speed.  Also, clarify during the interview that you are open to training and willing to learn, but demonstrate that you already possess the knowledge and skills required to do the job.  You need to demonstrate how you are capable of making a positive contribution to the success of the organization.

Finally, be approachable and show how you will be an awesome team member.  You have lots of experiences and knowledge to offer to others and you are willing to share.  Demonstrate how your skills will complement others, and describe your desire to be a dedicated, hard-working team member who is willing to put forth the effort necessary to achieve the company’s goals.

As always, do your homework to prepare for the interview.  This preparation coupled with a great attitude, the required skill set, and compatible personality will help set you apart from others and make you an irresistible candidate.

Best Wishes,

Sue Hicks, SPHR

Career Center Coordinator

Dress for Success Lexington

Dear DFS: Should I Volunteer While Searching for a Job?

Dear DFS:

I was let go from my job about a month ago, and haven’t been able to find many opportunities for work since. It seems like everyone is looking for work this time year. So, in the spirit of the holidays, I’ve decided to volunteer in between job searching. I’ve heard volunteering can be a great way to fill gaps in your resume, so I’m hoping to find something where I can give back to my community and walk away with a valuable experience. I just don’t know where to look. Do you have any ideas?

Hopeful for the holidays!

Amy, Seattle

 

Dear Amy,

Kudos on keeping your spirits high during your search for a new career! Volunteering is an amazing way to give back to your community, learn new skills, and help maintain a positive outlook as you embark on a new journey. Volunteering demonstrates to potential employers that you are passionate about something and that you care for your community, in addition to showing them you are a person of character and integrity. This would be someone I would want to hire!

When deciding on possible volunteer opportunities, you will want to consider a couple of factors: your schedule availability, personal interests and your values. Finding a volunteer position that fulfills these will help make volunteering a more valuable experience for both yourself and the organization you want to impact. For example, if you had a passion for shopping and wanted to promote the economic independence of low-income women, then volunteering for a local Dress for Success affiliate would be a perfect fit.

There are many different avenues to seek out volunteer opportunities including: MeetUp, SignUpGenius, VolunteerMatch, and NationalService. Internet searches can be very overwhelming, however, many of these sites will help identify an area that interests you or you feel most passionate about. You can also check your local community council for opportunities.

Volunteering should always be fun and rewarding, which is how you should feel about your career. You may want to consider seeking a volunteer position that is closely aligned to the type of employment you wish to secure. For example, if you hope to secure employment as an accountant, you could search for non-profit organizations that are in need of assistance with book-keeping.

Throughout our life, we are all faced with challenging times and it is how we respond to these challenges that reflect who we are as a person. Not allowing the transition between jobs to dampen your spirit speaks wonders of your character and this will shine through as you make strides in your volunteer search and as your career path takes shape.

Good Luck and Blessings,

Kathy Lambert

CEO

Dress for Success Midwest & Dress for Success Kansas City

Dear DFS: How Do I Craft an Elevator Speech?

Dear DFS:

I’ve been unemployed for two years now, so I’ve recently decided to try career counseling in hopes of revamping my job search. Everyone I’ve talked to keeps telling me that I need a great elevator pitch to step up my networking skills, but no one’s given me the tools to get started. Do you think having an elevator pitch is important?  If so, do you have any tips on how to create one that’s right for me?

Ready to elevate my career!

Michelle, Houston

 

Dear Michelle,

First, let me start by saying that I understand how difficult it is to be job searching.  It is a competitive market, so kudos to you for keeping your head up and giving it your best!  I think it is very important for everyone to have an elevator pitch, whether they are job searching or not.  Networking is one of the best ways to make connections that could lead to opportunities, so it is good practice to know how to talk about yourself in a way that is interesting, memorable, and, most importantly, brief!

The best thing about an elevator speech is that there’s not a lot to remember!  You’re taking all of the best qualities of yourself and condensing it into just a few minutes to provide a powerful punch of information that should leave a long-lasting impression on your listener.  No one knows you better than yourself, right?  You should talk about what you do and why.  Speak from the heart, so your words are authentic, not memorized—even though you have spent a long time perfecting it.

So, here are some tips and a few questions to for you to ask yourself that I hope will be helpful to you in crafting your personal pitch:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do, and why?
  • What do you want to do, and why?
  • What skills or experience do you have that make you the right person for the job?
  • Take a look at your resume, and think about the accomplishments you made in each job you’ve had.  If you have not worked before, think about accomplishments you have made in school, or in your personal life that would transfer to a job situation.

Focus on all of the positive things about yourself, and you can’t go wrong! Remember that great opportunity is out there just waiting for you to find it. And the only way to find it is by continuing your search.  Please do not give up.

I wish you all the best in your job search and beyond!

Sincerely,

 Kim Todd

Executive Director

Dress for Success Boston

Dear DFS: How Do I Find a Mentor?

Dear DFS, 

I have only been out of work for a few weeks now, but I don’t know how long this period of unemployment will last and I’m scared that I will lose my way if I stay out of work for too long.  Every now and then, I’ll hear the word “mentor” mentioned and I’m thinking that, right about now, I could really use one of those!  A little extra help in staying focused never hurts, right?  But how do I know who will make a good mentor?  And once I’ve found someone that I think would be a good one, how to I ask them?  I know that everyone is busy with their own schedules, so I don’t want to impose on anyone, but I would like someone who’s my go-to for professional advice! 

Focused and fearless, 

Miranda

Augusta, GA

 

Dear Miranda,

What a great question and way to approach, not just your job search, but your work life as well. A mentor is an important part of your employment toolbox for a number of reasons. First, they can be a great mirror for you to glimpse a reflection of yourself in. It’s helpful to have someone who can challenge your personal self doubt because, let’s face it, we all question our abilities at times. It’s also great to have someone who can be a cheerleader and spokesperson for you when they hear about opportunities.

The advice I give about mentors is to make sure it is someone you both like and respect. Because, simply put, you are more likely to take their advice if you like and respect them. Make sure that others like and respect them, too. If they are going to advocate for you, then you want other people to trust them just as much as you do.

They should be in a higher position than the one you are in or that you want to be in. That way they can provide you with helpful tips along the way. They don’t have to be in your field of work, but it helps if they are. Someone who knows your line of work can offer great tips on trends in the field, opportunities that you might be qualified for and how to frame your cover letter or resume so that you are getting real consideration.

Have you made any connections at your former place of employment? Have you attended conferences and made connections, or do you have friends who you used to work with who have moved on to higher positions? Also, scope out some of the people at activities that you regularly attend like church, your weekly yoga class or PTA meetings.  These are some sources for good mentors. Sometimes what you’ve been looking for as been right there along!

In terms of asking—just do it!  Everyone loves a nice compliment and asking someone to be your mentor is a top-ranking nicety.  By asking someone to be your mentor, you are saying that you trust them with your career and, therefore, your livelihood.  Telling someone you respect their work and would love for them to be your mentor will usually get a positive response, but it is important to consider the time of the person you are asking.

The best way to approach this is to be organized about what you need from them. If you want someone to give you specific feedback about your resume or cover letter, or to conduct a mock interview with you, tell them that. If you want someone to consult with about your job search in general, tell them that when you are asking them to mentor you. Remember that if it is not working for you, there is no rule against you finding another mentor. You need to find the right fit for you. A really good mentor can be an invaluable tool and can help you stay grounded during your job search. You are asking all the right questions, so I know you will find the perfect match!

Best wishes,

Harriet Williams

Executive Director

Dress for Success Burlington

(Photo by Steve Knight Photography)

Let’s Stay in Touch: Networking to Get a New Job

By Reesa Staten, Robert Half

In the job search, as with many things in life, the secret to success often lies not in what you know, but who you know. The fact is that all things being equal, hiring managers will often give an edge to applicants who have been referred to them by someone they know.

Why? Hiring is risky business for employers. Hire the wrong person, and your company loses valuable time, money and productivity. Not to mention the negative effect a bad match can have on team morale. So managers look for any input, including referrals, that will help them make the best hiring decision.

As a job seeker, you can increase your odds of getting hired by constantly expanding your professional network. The more people you know, the better your chances of hearing of job openings first and getting a foot in the door by having a personal referral.

Start by telling everyone you know — and everyone you meet — that you are in the job market. Job leads can come from anywhere, so leave no stone unturned. Of course, if you already have a job and are looking for something better, then your inquiries will need to be a little more discreet.

The first rule of networking is to make connections long before you need them. Keep in touch with the people you meet throughout your life, including past teachers, bosses and coworkers. Don’t overlook the family friend who works in a field or industry that has always interested you. If you lose contact with old acquaintances, rekindle the relationship with a friendly call or email.

The second rule of networking is to pay it forward by being a resource for others, no strings attached. If you offer support to someone who needs it, he or she will be more inclined to return the favor when it’s your turn to ask for help.

When someone introduces you to a person in their network or helps you land an interview, be sure that you are professional and courteous when you meet with the new contact. Your friends are going to bat for you. Make them glad they did.

Become a ‘Social’-ite

LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites are good channels for building and cultivating your professional network. You can use these sites to locate people who can help you expand your network. Be sure that you have an up-to-date profile so that your contacts get a complete picture of your skills and work history.

Facebook is one thing, but don’t overlook the value of face time. Arrange to have coffee with former colleagues from time to time so that you can keep the connection alive. If it’s been a while since you talked to someone, bring that person up-to-date on what you’ve been doing, including any new work experience you’ve gained. This will help him or her identify career opportunities that may be a fit.

When you ask your contacts for help, keep your requests reasonable, and make it as easy as possible for them to help you. For example, if you are applying for a job at their company, personally hand them your resume and explain why you think you would be a good fit. If you know the name of the hiring manager, share that information, too, so your contact does not have to do the legwork for you.

Not everyone will be in a position to help you, so be gracious if they decline. They may not feel comfortable advocating on your behalf, particularly if the two of you have had only limited interaction in the past. This is all the more reason you need to stay in frequent contact with members of your network.

If networking isn’t a habit for you, make it one by engaging in at least one networking activity each month. It could be as easy as sending a quick thank-you note to someone who has helped you in the past, attending a business mixer or congratulating a friend who was promoted.

Networking shouldn’t feel like a chore. If you foster great relationships over time, then your contacts will start to feel a lot more like friends than professional colleagues.

 

Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at reesa@roberthalf.com.