GNcareers, from Gulf News

Find out how those old contacts can still lend a hand

Find out how those old contacts can still lend a handImage Credit: Supplied

Like many people, I have a group of serial coworkers, people with whom I have worked in different companies and even different countries. Whether our paths crossed often because we all followed the same career steps or because we exchanged recommendations for one another, one thing remains true: It is a small world.

In this small world, you must handle yourself well, stop short from burning bridges and watch out for your reputation — personal and professional — because word of mouth spreads quicker and wider than you may think. In fact, what could boost your career is to invest in these relationships and try to maximise the rewards of having a growing network that can help with your career moves.

How to do so? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

* Stay in touch

In the past, it was hard when you were moving jobs to remain in touch with past coworkers. But it is easier today to stay in touch in moderation. From LinkedIn and other networking sites to attending professional events, you should be able to maintain existing and past connections. Remember that passive monitoring doesn't pay off.

Try to take a more proactive approach by sending a congratulatory note when you hear someone has been promoted, taken a new job or just checking in on your past coworkers. Some may not show mutual interest in remaining in touch, but many do see the benefits and want to know what you're up too.

* Be honest

We all fall into the positivity trap, when we only want to report good news to our friends, coworkers and family. Although there is no reason for you to go into the details of issues you might be having at your current job with past coworkers, it is easy to drop a subtle note about your dissatisfaction and being open to new opportunities... if you are.

When you do so, you will be remembered by these contacts when a job opens in their companies.

You even can take a step further by asking particular contacts about openings in their companies. If you think they are in a position to know about openings before they hit the online job boards and newspaper classifieds, you may get ahead of other applicants with an internal recommendation.

Again remember to remain positive when you are expressing your interest in working for a particular employer. No one — even your friends or past coworkers — wants to recommend someone who is on the verge of being fired or desperate for a job.

* Explore staff

When applying for a job, take some time to research the employer's staff. Almost every company now has some online presence with a listing of at least the top management. Try to get as much information as possible about the hiring managers.

Even if you don't find someone you know personally among them, you may find this 'golden' contact in another department. If you have a close contact with this person, you may be able to get an insight about what the company is looking for, the corporate culture and the pros and cons of working for this particular employer.

In some cases, you may even find out about more openings that could be a better fit for your experience. So, don't underestimate the knowledge you could acquire from an insider as well as getting a personal recommendation.

* Go through the process

Although getting an insider to vouch for you can push your resume to the top, don't take anything for granted. As far as you are concerned, you still need to go through the entire process as professionally as you can. Even if your insider contact is familiar with the hiring manager — or even the hiring manager — don't get too close too soon.

No one wants to be seen as favouring a friend, especially in a hiring process which can have serious legal consequences. So make sure that you don't assume anything.

Provide all the credentials you would provide for any other job, email professionally, and take any tests and interviews seriously. By doing so, you will be sure that you will prove yourself worthy of the recommendation you have got.

Get recommended

* Stay in touch with past coworkers.

* Let them know if you are job hunting.

* Search for known faces with future employers.

* Validate the recommendation.

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Source: Rania Oteify, Special to