Dear J.T. & Dale: You experts keep saying to “network.” Most jobs I’ve gotten by networking have turned out very badly for me. I won’t go into details, but they often ended in lack of advancement, being knifed in the back by a supervisor or other not-so-nice happenings. I have a long list of industries I’ve been in and know I have no desire to work in again — finance, insurance, retail, any type of food service, any job requiring answering phones or being on the computer all day and sales (including all the titles that try to hide that it’s a sales job). I’m questioning every tactic that career experts are offering because the advice doesn’t seem to be working in the current job market. So, now what? — Dana
Dale: Dana, Dana, Dana. If you get a job via networking, you are getting a prescreened job/workplace that someone you know believes would suit you. If your friends are sending you to lousy situations, what does that say about you? Well … it says that your friends don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s because you seem focused on what you are NOT looking for — a list including just about every category of entry-level job. Given all the jobs you don’t want, I suspect your contacts are suggesting it’s-a-job jobs, knowing you won’t like it anyway.
J.T.: That seems a bit harsh.
Dale: No. Dana’s letter reminds me of a Jimmy Buffet song where he meets a woman and says of her, “I’m just the next man you’re gonna blame.” I get the feeling from Dana that a new job is just the next one she’s going to hate.
J.T.: Being in the wrong job can make the entire world seem bleak, so let’s assume that Dana is just venting. What you need, Dana, is not just one, but several exciting career options. That way, you’ll never feel trapped. You know that if one doesn’t work out, you can move on, which makes you less stressed about the job and able to enjoy it more. So I’d like you to go play the Career Interests Game at the Web site of the University of Missouri. (Just do a Google search.)
Dale: If you do that, you’ll find some new energy to put together with the career advice you’ve been questioning, and I’m betting it will start to work for you, especially the networking.
J.T.: It may not work as quickly as you’d like, but that’s a result of the current economy. There are 13 million people without jobs. However, the good news is that there are, right now, more than 4 million jobs available. Good advice will help you find one of those jobs where your background fits the job and where your new career enthusiasm can be tested and, let’s hope, reinforced.