Strategizing Job Search When You Have No Network

Carol writes:
From 1985 to now I have essentially been doing very little part-time freelance consulting.
The problem is I recently moved to a new town and I have NO network even where I used to
work. Should I try (at the age of 50) to get work as an entry-level consultant full-time or as
a part-time person at a middle level? I haven’t even stayed in contact with any of my
old “professional” bosses from the 70s and 80s so I hardly have references. There are
not a lot of consulting firms in this neck of the woods should I try to change fields?

The Career Doctor responds:
You have quite a number of obstacles to overcome in your job search and while it
may take quite a bit of work for you to achieve your goal I do believe you can do it.
Let’s first start with your career direction. You need to decide if you want to stay in
consulting. I don’t know why you done so little of it since 1985 but it
certainly does not sound much like a passion or calling. Spend some quiet time
deciding the types of things you really enjoy doing and those activities you dislike.
See if there is a match with consulting. If not you’ll need to spend even
more time examining other career options.
The second thing you need to do is examine your skills set. No company is going to
be interested in hiring you if your skills are not current. You need to take a hard look
at what you can offer an employer. What else have you been doing these past years? Can you apply any of those activities to consulting (or other areas)? You may
need to consider getting further education to sharpen your skills and make your
education the focal point of your job search.
The third thing you need to do is rebuild your network of contacts. Since you have
basically lost all your former contacts you really need to jumpstart this process. I
would certainly try re-establishing contact with key mentors/supervisors from your
previous positions but most of your focus should be on building new contacts. You
can build your network in multiple ways — in your community in your profession in
your school (through alums or if you go back for more education) and online. In your
case given your circumstances I would also strongly recommend joining or starting a
networking job club. Besides building a network the members of the club also serve
as a support group to push you to succeed in your job search.
Want to learn more about job clubs? Please read this article on the Quintessential
Careers site: For Networking and
Support Join or Start a Job Club
. And if you need more help with the whole
concept of networking please review all the resources in this section of Quintessential
Careers: The Art of Networking.
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