(StatePoint) In challenging economic times many Americans are struggling to keep jobs or find new ones.
The keys to staying on the job or landing a new one are marketing yourself to your existing or potential bosses, and networking in the workplace.
Sociology researchers at Stanford University interviewed hundreds of people, asking them how they got their jobs. An overwhelming number, 56 percent, said they heard about them from friends or acquaintances.
“The central theme is, what is usually considered ‘luck’ in job-finding: having the right contact in the right place at the right time,” writes Stanford’s Mark Granovetter in his book, “Getting a Job: A Study of Contacts and Careers.”
Never before has the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” been so apt — especially in a world where people are linked through Internet message boards and social networking sites that connect jobseekers with others in their professions.
Keeping your job
If you have a job and are in a company where layoffs are likely, here are some useful tips offered by the experts at GottaMentor. com, a Web site helping people leverage their existing work relationships and form new ones:
• Understand the process: When companiesmake layoffs, one of the first things they do is decide who is protected. “That’s the list you want your name on,” says Andrea Rice, president and co-founder of GottaMentor. “The list is likely to be a combination of top performers, those occupying mission critical positions, and people the group head has taken a personal interest in.”
• Make yourself indispensable: Companies retain employees demonstrating skills that can be used to handle additional responsibilities. Don’t cut corners and make sure your work is error-free.
• Ask for additional work: When employees are laid off, it usually means more work for those remaining. Managers want to retain employees who can handle heavier workloads.
• Network, network, network: Get involved in formal and informal groups in your company. Attend meetings, lunches and after-work get-togethers. Volunteer to organize them. Find a mentor or mentor other junior employees. You can coordinate meetings and share information through such social networking sites as FaceBook or GottaMentor.com.
• Help your boss shine and be visible: This might mean making sure he or she is prepared for a certain meeting armed with work you’ve done, or nominated for a community or company award. If you’re out of sight, you’re diminishing your perceived value.
Finding a Job
It’s all about networking and marketing:
• Communicate with friends and colleagues. Call or e-mail them and get together for a cup of coffee to develop closer ties that could lead to opportunities.
• Expand your network. Utilize social networking sites like LinkedIn and Gotta- Mentor.com to make connections to expand your network of acquaintances or reconnect with old ones.
• Consider tapping a mentor, such as a former teacher or a higher-up in a business. It’s an effective way to get help, especially if you’re just getting started. “Mentoring will continue to emerge as one of the most viable and cost beneficial offerings necessary for youth development needs,” write the experts at the Oakland, Californiabased Mentoring Center (www.Mentor.org), which focuses on raising awareness about mentoring.
• Stand out by connecting with employers in places where they already gather. Attend trade association gatherings. Get involved in online communities. Consider starting or polishing your own blog or Facebook page to demonstrate your work expertise.
Get out there and make your own economy rebound.