It Takes a Village

I was speaking recently with a client whose son landed his first job – in financial services, no less.  Laughing, she observed: “It takes a village to get a job in finance these days.”  Indeed, it does.

Although her son was a recent MBA grad who’d had solid industry internships, there was no queue of people waiting to hire him.  Not a real surprise; it’s a rough market.

And it wasn’t like he was sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring.  He had literally gone knocking on doors, joined trade associations and, of course, leveraged his alumni association.  Still, no luck.  He cast his net a mile wide, but only about an inch deep.

Then, he really started working his network, not stopping at the first level – that one degree of separation we all talk about.  He pressed family members into service – and friends of family members – and co-workers of friends of neighbors – and acquaintances of friends of people he knew from his internships.  You get the picture.  He was persistent until he had a whole village of people working to help him get his foot in the door at one of his target firms.  Whew.

Finally, success!  The happy ending we all hope to achieve.

So, what did he learn that you can use in your search?

  • Be fearless.
  • Get out of the house and meet people.
  • Be clear and passionate about what you want.
  • Tell everyone you meet what that is.
  • Ask everyone you know if they know someone at that firm, in that role…
  • Ask people you don’t know, even those who don’t seem like they can help – your hairdresser, your waitress, your neighbors, your friends’ parents.
  • When you hit a dead end, ask for another name or contact or idea.
  • Be open to others’ ideas and suggestions.
  • Follow up with sincere thanks. Even to those who weren’t able to help.

What’s the moral of this story?  If it worked for this young man just starting his career, it will work for all of us.

I would love to hear your stories.  What have you done to build or leverage your village?

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