The prospect of creating a professional network can be intimidating and confusing.  But the most compelling incentive for getting beyond your angst is the fact that a lot of folks are finding the right job because they developed a healthy and vital professional network. It is not really a new concept. Even before the economic downturn, many people found their jobs through connections.

Current surveys reflect the fact that close to 80 percent of employment vacancies are filled with candidates who had some contact with their employers prior to positions being advertised. While it is advisable to take advantage of every job resource out there, churning out resume after resume for job postings online might not be the best use of your time. The good news is that it is no longer an onerous chore to find contacts using the combo of internet and social media.

Why network in the first place?

  • It’s an ideal way to get career information and advice from professionals who are experienced in their field and who may turn out to be a job contact in the future.
  • You can become better informed about potential employers, industry trends and the nature of employment opportunities in the industry.
  • You will be better prepared for the screening and interview processes.
  • Networking can demonstrate your initiative, organizational and communication skills, follow-through, attention to detail and genuine interest in a position – all qualities that separate the best candidate from the others.

What can you learn from networking?

  • Specific kinds of work the field offers and what experience and qualifications are required
  • Which employers are highly respected in the field
  • Which positions your experience qualifies you for
  • Current industry trends
  • Hiring cycles and where the jobs are most frequently posted
  • Names of personal contacts or other individuals who are hiring or who handle hiring for an employer of interest
  • Additional contacts who may also be helpful in your process of gathering more information

How do you get started building a network?

Networking is always a bit more comfortable if you already have an established connection. But there are a variety of ways to build and expand your network even if you don’t have a known contact. Take inventory of what career fields are represented by your friends, family, family members’ friends, extended family, neighbors, current and past teachers, members of your church or synagogue and especially college alumni.

Don’t despair if you can’t find a good contact among your current connections.  LinkedIn, short exchanges on Twitter and Facebook can also lead to valuable contacts.  Professional Associations are a great way to meet professionals in your area of interest and attending network events sponsored by local associations.  They sponsor a variety of professional networking events. 

What’s the best way to capitalize on your network?

Once you have scheduled time to talk to a contact focus on your goals and the kind of information that will be useful to you.  It is equally important to do some research on your contact and come armed with questions that show that you have done some homework and have made an effort to learn about your contact.

After meeting with your network contact, follow up with a thank you note. Remain in touch with your contact so you stay on his or her radar screen when a job opportunity turns up.

Move beyond any fears or reservations about approaching a network contact. Keep in mind that most people like to talk about themselves and enjoy sharing their accomplishments and wisdom as an “expert.” As long as people feel that they have something to offer, they are most likely to generously offer information and advice.


A Day in the Life of a Career Counselor

A Day in the Life of a Career  Counselor

For most of my professional life I have been a career counselor and coach.  I spend countless hours guiding people through an intricate maze that includes their experiences, talents, skills and interests. The goal is to come up with job options that have the potential to be life-changing and satisfying. I have had many opportunities to educate and advise students, young professionals, seasoned workers and Baby Boomers on all areas of career development. On a personal level, I have benefited from learning about the highs and lows of their experiences and found a deep sense of pride inspiring clients to take initiative and risks that have unfolded into exciting new opportunity and positive change.

I love my work. A typical day for me entails listening to stories about someone’s life and career and pulling out the patterns and themes that will help a client.  Perhaps the most important effect my work has is helping people achieve their aspirations and challenging them to write a new life chapter — one that has a hopeful sentence at the end.

Like any job, mine has its dramatic moments — especially when clients see me as a wizard who knows the answer to their life’s conundrum.  I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that it’s better if I encourage clients to use their strength and wisdom to wave their own magic wand.  My magic is helping clients discover that they have the power to choose their own destiny.

There is another challenging dimension to my work. That is to keep spirits up in a time when many people are discouraged by the economy and job market and worrying about the future. Often clients have done all the right things with nothing to show for their efforts.  In the end, most of my clients have found new jobs but it has taken much longer than we both expected. It’s times like these that I feel a bit helpless and decidedly frustrated by the state of a current economy and political environment that allow for so much waste of energy, talent and skills.

Despite the inherent obstacles, I have had the privilege of working with clients who have achieved remarkable changes and others who have made less dramatic but equally satisfying transitions.  A young lawyer who became a sports agent, a vice president of corporate communications who is now a nurse, and an accountant who freelances as a comic book writer are just a few examples of how people transform their careers. I have observed that when clients consider career fields or jobs that support a compelling interest, it increases the likelihood that they will find some level of work satisfaction.

Another plus in my work is the stimulating time I spend trying to understand the complexities of the job market, researching emerging new career fields and keeping up to date on current trends in the workplace.  On a daily basis I peruse the Wall Street Journal, network with colleagues and delve into several online publications so I can help my clients generate realistic career and job options and ensure that they take advantage of the best resources.

I don’t believe a career is everything in life, but it offers us a chance to capitalize on our talents and abilities and to make a contribution to the world.

What is most rewarding to me about working with clients on career or job change is that not only have clients attained an important personal goal, but they have also strengthened their communication skills, increased their self awareness and renewed their self confidence. Perhaps it is naïve, but I genuinely believe that we all deserve a happy and satisfying work life. So I will continue to enjoy listening to each client’s unique story, hoping in the end that his or her dream comes true.


While You Are Waiting for Something to Change

The search for an exciting new career or even the less adventurous prospect of finding a decent job is a unique challenge in a sluggish economy. Admirable qualities such as patience, a positive attitude, creative thinking, a willingness to take the initiative and some old fashion finger crossing can only take you so far before the sturdiest, most optimistic personality crumbles a little at the edges. Even a sparkling, polished resume combined with an effective job search strategy no longer guarantee immediate success.

A job search can be the most dispiriting of pursuits when you have done all the right things with nothing to show for your efforts. A string of disappointments can lead to stress and depression.  You can’t change the current state of the economy and the fabric of the job market. What you can do is keep yourself energized and discover creative ways to expand your professional development as you wait for the right opportunity.

Change Current Situation

Explore ways to make the best of your current employment by taking on new and challenging projects. If your relationship with your supervisor or a colleague is difficult or tense, try some new communication approaches.


Stay in touch with colleagues and take advantage of professional events and online resources to build and expand your network.  Discover how to make yourself visible and connect with other professionals in your field using social media resources; linkedin, twitter and facebook. And you might just land a job this way!

Training or Additional Education

Take advantage of any in-house opportunities for further training in your field or consider taking courses to gain a professional certification or improve your computer skills. Many area colleges and universities offer non-credit courses in a variety of professional areas at a low-cost.

Professional or Community Activities

Get involved with a professional association or community group that matches your career interests. This can expand your skill set as well as cultivate your professional network.  And if you are currently NOT working this is a great way to stay active in your field or explore new ones.


Beyond the rewards of giving back, a volunteer experience can be motivating, provide a sense of achievement, offer exposure to a different culture and unique opportunity to develop a new skill.  You will meet new people and enrich your community at the same time.

Exercise and Fun

Take good care of yourself!  Research shows that exercise and laughter reduces stress and depression as well as keeping you healthy and thinking positively.

Jane’s article in the Huffington Post: From Battlefield to Workplace

Take a Stab at Freelance

It’s no fun pounding the pavement, wearing your shoes and your spirit out, looking for work opportunities. You dutifully post your resumes online, network your heart out and attend career fairs, all with negative results. If you are frustrated by the tough job market, consider freelance or contract work as way to tide you over.  With some luck, your temporary job could turn into a full time job. However, freelance work provides an opportunity to continue to develop your skills and earn some money at the same time. Many professionals in full time positions pursue freelance work as a way to enhance their salaries.

Digitization, smart phones, Skype and cloud technology have made freelancing a possibility in many fields. More often than not, you can complete your work tasks and assignments in the convenient confines of your own home.

Many people pursue freelance opportunities because it provides more flexibility and offers some creative control over projects. The ability to work at home, potential for additional income and growing a business are other popular reasons for considering freelance jobs. The downside is lack of benefits and, depending on your area of expertise, the salary may be lower than you expected.  A common complaint among freelancers is not being paid on time.

The Freelancers Union is an online professional group that offers benefits, resources and a virtual community to its members. Even better, there is no cost to join. It also features a freelance job board that covers a wide variety of occupational fields and provide information and advice on writing contracts, handling taxes and finances and gives tips on how to make the most out of freelancing.

With the continual shifts that are naturally occurring in the economy and the job market, more employers will be hiring freelance and contract workers to support short term projects and initiatives. This saves the employer time and money.

Popular Freelance Fields

Currently fields hiring the most freelancers include: accounting, internet engineers, marketing, PR and advertising, business development and sales, TV, film and video, writing and editing and web development and design.


Determining how much to charge for your services is one of the biggest challenges freelancers initially face. There is no simple formula or average rates.  Colleagues in your field, who have used freelancers, may be able to offer some advice on fees. Carefully assess the hours you will need to complete the project as well as expenses. It may take the experience of a few freelance projects to more adequately estimate required time and compensation.

Where to find Freelance Jobs

There are three major ways to get your name out there:


Many employers who hire freelancers will check with colleagues or other trusted professionals in their field for referrals. 

Portfolio Websites

If you are in the more artistic areas, like graphic design or photography, consider creating a profile with samples of your work on a portfolio websites. 

Social Networking

Social networking sites including Facebook and LinkedIn are free and include applications that enable you to show examples of your work. It’s an ideal to way to advertise your services to a large group. Close to 90 percent of employers now conduct searches on LinkedIn to find both full time and freelance workers.

MyPartTimePRO posts freelance, temporary jobs and part time jobs in the Philadelphia area.

There are many advantages to freelance work, but it can be isolating and take more of your free time than you realized, so make time to stay connected to friends, family and colleagues. Most freelance work requires many hours of sitting in front of your computer.  Taking a daily walk or committing to an exercise plan, will keep you motivated and in shape both physically and mentally.

Careers in Multimedia Technology

Do you have a talent for using the computer and an eye for design?  Then you might consider rebooting your career by highlighting and clicking on the emerging new field of multimedia technology. This career specialty is predicted to grow by 18 perceny into 2016 and yield annual salaries from $56,000 to $100,000 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

From motion pictures and video to Web design and mobile media, careers in multimedia technology can be as creative as they are challenging.

What Is Multimedia Technology?

Multimedia technology applies interactive computer applications, such as graphics, text, video, sound and animation, with the goal of delivering a message. Professionals in multimedia use computer software to develop and manage online graphics and content.

Career Opportunities

There are a variety of job opportunities in multimedia technology spread along a wide horizon of industries.  In this day and age, information presented to a large audience often contains digital and print images. The use of text and animation can often enhance the communication of an important message. With a strong back ground and skills in multimedia technology, you might find job opportunities in marketing and advertising. Or you could discover your work niche in the publishing industry, where there is the need for designing, managing or generating multimedia content for websites, newspapers or magazines. Even libraries, museums, cable TV, retailers, filmmakers and training departments offer jobs to people with skills in multimedia technology.

Typical Multi Media Job Titles:

  • Web developer
  • Graphic artist
  • Digital photographer
  • Instructional designer
  • Production assistant
  • Desktop publisher
  • Film/Video animator


Many community colleges offer associates degrees in multimedia technology which prepare students for entry-level employment in the field.  An associate’s degree in multimedia is offered at Montgomery Community College through its digital design program.

There is some preference by employers to hire candidates with bachelor’s degrees. The University of the Arts in Center City offers a bachelor of fine arts in multimedia and allows students to minor in specific areas like Game design, e-music or web design.

If you don’t have an associates or bachelors degree in multimedia technology, don’t despair, there are many certificate programs in multimedia for career changers.


Multimedia degree programs provide training on using computer programs and creating interactive presentations or materials. Many programs will focus on teaching students how to use website development software like Cascading Style Sheet or the Adobe suite, which includes Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator and Dreamweaver. Design techniques using multimedia technology are often emphasized in the curriculum. As part of the learning process, students often have the opportunity to take on creative projects to develop their own artistic style using digital art.

A multimedia professional can look forward to applying a dynamic combination of website design basics, electronic imaging, animation, graphic design and digital editing. But most exciting, is the potential to integrate creativity and imagination with the cutting edge tools of technology.

Related Topics:BLS, Jane Finkle, and Multimedia

Creating a 30-Second Elevator Speech
If you are stuck about the whole career networking process, think about creating a 30-second elevator speech. This simplified approach provides an organized way to introduce yourself to a professional contact.  Think of the 30-second elevator speech as a personal pitch, or as a script that you develop with the distinct purpose of establishing rapport or a relationship with a potentially valuable contact. This short-hand introduction can also act to stimulate interest on the part of your contact.

Hopefully your 30-second speech will cultivate curiosity and generate questions from your contact that will provide more information about your background and interests.

There are many situations where the 30-second elevator speech can be useful from meeting a new client or colleague, to engaging with a former classmate or potential employer. When people meet for the first time, the initial exchange is usually based on, “Who are you and what do you do?”  If you have a well thought out introduction organized ahead of time, the delivery will be smoother and more cohesive … and might very well result in a greater chance to make a good impression at the crucial starting point.  Once you have created a basic introduction you can tailor it to any situation.

Basic Elements of 30-second Elevator Speech

Your Name and Title

Nothing complicated here.  A simple “Hi, my name is John and I am currently a business analyst” will do.  If you are a student or a recent grad, it is fine to use these terms as your title.  For the unemployed, the focus can be on past titles and capacities and the fields and industries that fill your resume.

Your Role

The description of your role can be an extension of your title embellished with more information.

“I am a nurse who specializes in emergency room patients and recently developed expertise working with patients who suffered traumatic head injuries.” Or for a college grad, “I recently graduated from Temple University with a fine arts degree in graphic design.”

Your Interests

Expanding on accomplishments or exciting developments in your experience presents a unique opportunity to build enthusiasm and more fully engage your contact.

“I enjoy working with my patients and have had the privilege of watching many seriously injured patients fight courageously to improve their physical condition.”

The positive energy that you display can prove to be contagious and can act to further your contact’s interest in finding out more about you.

Future Conversation

If your initial introduction and conversation goes smoothly with a contact, it can open the door to a more formal meeting or discussion via Skype or telephone.  As you develop your introduction pitch, it is also a good idea to think in advance about how to present your desire for an extended conversation.

“I am looking to expand my nursing experience and talents and pursue opportunities in Hospice care.  You have substantial knowledge and experience in this area and I wondered if you would be willing to talk with me further about trends in the field.”

Additional Tips

Practice your elevator speech with friends or colleagues and make sure your delivery comes across as natural.  Keep in mind you can use the pitch in building your network of friends, colleagues, leaders in your field and professional acquaintances. You can tailor the pitch depending on who it is you are trying to build a relationship with but a basic introduction will always help you break the ice with a new contact.

Avoid being blatantly direct by asking your contact for a job. In the same spirit, do not ask the contact if he or she would consider interviewing you. This kind of approach is a turn off since the contact does not really know you well enough and will consider your request an imposition.

The 30-second elevator speech is about developing a relationship which can simply produce a warm and valuable relationship or lead to an opportunity now or in the future.