Tips for networking in your parish

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Article Parish Life
Finding a job can be hard work. Try these five steps for using your church in your employment search.

Many experts agree that the most important aspect of finding a job is being able to network. And for Catholics, what better place to connect with individuals in a wide variety of careers than at their parish?

Here are five ways to make the most of your potential parish connections during the job hunt:

1. Have friends. If you have friends at your parish, you have already begun to network without even realizing it. Simply let the word out: I’ve been let go and I’m looking. If you are shy, regardless of what job ministries your church offers, now is the time to volunteer and meet some people. Volunteering often leads to paid work.

2. Be a friend. If one of your friends at church is out of work, now is the time to spread the word about their talents and abilities. Remember that while your friend may be very aware of his or her professional qualities, the truth of those merits will always hold more weight when spoken by someone else.

3. Expect—and seek—variety. One networking group will not meet all your job search needs, nor will anyone at such a group simply hand you a job. Remember also that parish jobs ministries can come and go with the wind. Cindy Kilpatrick started Edgewood Works, a parish jobs support group in Redwood City, California, only to see it fizzle once she found full-time work. “It’s a shame, because I feel there is still a need for it,” Gammer said. So be prepared, and don’t put all your faith in one group.

4. Get the information. According to Forbes magazine, the best way to find a job that will be a good fit is to conduct informational interviews. Seek out people who are working in industries or companies that interest you and schedule brief, friendly, educational chats. Remember that you are never to ask the person for a job and that you should always offer to work around their schedule. If you talk to 100 people within three months, the chances are high that you will be offered a job by someone within that network.

5. Hit it. Illinois WorkNet Center recommends that you attend four networking meetings, conduct three informational interviews, engage in two personal development activities, and apply for five jobs per week during the job search. And don’t forget to follow up: Don Harkness, who scouts for new talent at job fairs for the small Texas company Welker Engineering, reports that only one-third of the worthwhile candidates he met at his last job fair sent him an e-mail follow-up.

This is a web-only sidebar that accompanies "Help wanted: Parishes offer assistance to the unemployed", which appeared in the August 2013 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 78, No. 8, pages 21-25).

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