Do you work two jobs or odd hours? Are you a freelancer, but you'd prefer a more traditional job? Perhaps you're sick and tired of your unconventional schedule and hours, but you can't figure out how to break out of your current work situation. You've heard that networking is the key to landing a new job, but you don't have any time to attend events or hob nob with people who may be able to influence your job opportunities. Is there hope for you?
There is, if you're willing to take a few key steps to manage your career. If you continue on your current path, you may eventually luck into a new opportunity. However, finding a new job that fits your best-case scenario isn't likely if you don't make a concerted effort.
How can you find a new job when you're so busy keeping up with the odd hours or inconvenient oddities of the job you have?
Make a plan
You're never going to get anywhere if you don't know where you are going. Having a general idea that you'd like "better hours" or a "different" job is a first step, but it's not specific enough to help you make a change. Write down exactly what type of job you want. Include target companies, hours you'd like to work and what you want to do. Don't be afraid to be very specific. Once you specify your goals, it is much easier to reach them.
Even if you work odd hours, you can turn to Google or LinkedIn at any time of the day or night to research people who work in places where you want a job. If you're already using LinkedIn, see if the company has a page there and determine if you have any contacts that connect you to people who work there. Look in LinkedIn's advanced search to find possible contacts, and investigate the "Education" section to see if you should connect with fellow alumni. Don't forget to check out Groups. This is a great place to meet new people, and your odd schedule doesn't prevent you from connecting with new people who may be able to refer you to job opportunities.
Expand your network on your own time frame
One thing a lot of people don't realize: even if you can't meet people in person, when you connect online and share information and resources, you can win friends who may open their networks to you and help connect you with opportunities. No matter what type of work you do, there is likely to be a community online of people who can help you along the way.
For some professions, it's most obvious to turn to LinkedIn's groups to connect, but what if your profession doesn't have an obvious professional arena? Look for interest groups unrelated to work. Do you have a hobby or interests that could help you connect with people you don't know online? Search Facebook or Google+ for an interest group. Maybe you like to cook or are passionate about ultimate Frisbee. Even if you can't participate with in-person groups, you can still extend your network. Look on Twitter to see if there is a chat about something you like to do. Even if you can't attend a Twitter chat "live," you can still connect with the people who participate and get to know them online.
The best networkers look for opportunities to meet new people wherever they go. In the grocery store at 2 a.m? You probably have something in common with the person in the line behind you. At the gym in the wee hours of the morning? Say hello to people working out beside you. You never know how a smile and a hello can influence your future.
Don't ask for a job
Even if your primary purpose for using social media may be to increase your network for job opportunities, avoid telling people you're looking for a job when you first meet them. Even though you've heard you should let everyone you meet know you are looking for work, it's better to get to know people first and share your professional goals later. If you play your cards right, you could be quitting that job before you know it.