OK, so don’t read that as I’ve only HAD one job in my life. As much as we like to hope we leave education and go straight into our ideal job for the rest of our life, it very rarely happens.
But, I have only ever actually applied for one job in my life.
One word: connections.
Let me explain...
As many other young people do, I had the usual weekend or after school job to bring in some pocket money. Being young and inexperienced, these came about from my parents’ connections in their workplace and local community, as well as my subsequent referrals after doing a good job.
Prior to university, I secured myself a retail job in the summer break from a friend’s referral. I kept in contact with people there and managed to secure recurring summer jobs when I was home from uni.
So, the one job I actually applied for?
It was just a part-time retail role while I was studying!
They were needing weekend sales staff, I applied and the job was mine (there were a few other steps including interviews and so on - but let’s not get bogged down!). That ‘one job I applied for in my life’ taught me some great time management skills (and to not rely solely on my student loan) for my years of study.
My connections back home allowed me to briefly return to the retail space after my studies and from there, I was contacted by an old school friend regarding tax graduate roles at Ernst & Young.
After that friend successfully referred me (and after internal individual and group interviews), I was on my new career path as a tax accountant! During my time there, I successfully referred 4 other people in my network for roles as the business was expanding. I had a great 3 years there before my big move to the land of the long white cloud.
But how was I going to approach looking for a new role in a new country where I only knew a handful of people?
Yep, you guessed it - connections.
The world is a small place, and in accounting circles - it’s even smaller!
Leveraging my connections from the UK, I was able to get my CV to a Big 4 and mid-tier company in Auckland, as well as applying internally with Ernst & Young - all without one online application in sight! I was lucky enough to secure offers from all 3 prior to my move, which was something that took a lot of pressure off!
After just less than a year in NZ tax, I was approached by a gym friend who worked at Consult to see if I wanted to join the glamorous life of a recruiter for the best (I’m slightly biased) Accounting & Finance recruitment company in Auckland.
Without my connections and networks both in the UK and their subsequent connections abroad, I wouldn’t have been given or heard about half of the opportunities I have had.
This was all prior to joining sites like LinkedIn so these were all real-life connections too. Don’t take these networking opportunities for granted - you are so much more memorable in person than just a connection on a website!
I had personally never used a recruiter before (I know - shock, horror!), but after working in the recruitment industry I have learned just how valuable they can be to people. They know so many people in the market so even if you don’t have the connections, make the connection with them (the recruiter) because they can take you far.
So, my advice to you?
To keep connected with as many people as you can - and keep these relationships active. It’s definitely quality over quantity when it comes to building your network as you don’t know when you will need to call on it!