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Tap Your Network Interview

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Tap Your Network series was designed with a purpose to share stories about professional networking, with the hope of showing job seekers the importance of networking and provide practical tips to build and manage your professional network. Over the years, I’ve experienced the benefits of a great professional network and the struggles of entering into a new career. I’ve come to realize that building your professional network with the right contacts is one of the greatest investments you can make.

For our second interview, Tap Your Network series, I talked with Jen Narayan. She is a career coach, and founder at Career Real Talk, which helps people find their dream job. She does this by guiding her client’s through a proven process to make clear career goals. A practical and motivating speaker, Jen gets real about what it takes to land a dream job. If you are an individual who is feeling stuck in their career, an organization looking to fill a difficult role, or a school looking to prep their students on their job search, you should reach out to her — for real.

Help us elevate the conversation on how to Tap Your Network the right way. By sharing and engaging in these articles, it opens up space for more people to find meaningful jobs and careers through networking. Let us know your thoughts!

Adam: Welcome to the second interview of the tap your network interview series. Today, I have Jen Narayan. And she is the founder of Career Real Talk. So thanks a lot for joining me, Jen.

Jen: Thanks, Adam, for having me.

Adam: So we won’t go into too much detail of all the services that you have on your website. All the information is at the top of the article. So let’s first can we first talk a little bit about how you got into your career and your thinking has evolved over time.

Jen: Sure, so I started off in human resources but then I always gravitated to talent acquisition and recruitment. So I spent the majority of 15 years well dedicated to talent acquisition with some HR elements as well. And from talent acquisition, I realized that the part that really gave me the most joy was helping people land their dream job. And throughout the years I gained, you know, lots of tips and tricks. So now I’m able to help people accelerate the process to find their dream job.

Adam: So, what are some of the things people need to do to land your dream job?

Jen: Sure. So there’s a lot of things that I help people do. The first thing is to help them get a clear career story. And what I mean by that is, you know, there’s a certain job that you’re targeting, and at the moment you have a certain level of experience. So I help really build your career story to climb the ladder.

Crafting your resume, building your LinkedIn profile, your cover letter, we’re really looking to leverage the transferable skills to move towards your dream job. There are other things like an elevator pitch. People will often bypass these things, but it comes in handy when you’re networking and someone asks you what you’re doing.

I spend a lot of time helping them craft a great resume. There are many great resume writers out there, and they will really do a good job, but it’s different from a recruiter’s perspective. I’m also a recruiter and a very picky recruiter. I know what they are looking for. You need to make it obvious that you’re a good fit for the role. And, you need to bypass the filtration systems, bypass the bots.

But the thing that I’m really missing here is the job search strategy and that is where the networking comes in super high. We’ll talk a bit more about that. With a good search strategy, I can help them find jobs that they wouldn’t know about.

Adam: Right. So, you’re preparing them to engage in a new industry or a new type of career or climb the professional career ladder. And, and by giving them sort of these helpful tips, it kind of makes the lowers of friction to communicate the value proposition to the company.

Jen: Exactly. Because once they get that clear clarity, they can speak to it much confidently. It’s already within them. And it’s sort of bringing that all out and getting them really,

Adam: That’s interesting. Although I am currently working in the software and technology industry, I started my career in finance and investment banking. The thing I realized is that when you’re changing careers, you’re essentially changing networks as well. And so many of your previous connections aren’t going to be helpful to what you’re doing now. So it’s really important to get that value proposition down when you are changing careers. You really want to make sure that when you engage with new people, and they understand you, and they understand what you’re looking to do, and where you are looking to go. I can totally see the value of coaching or mentorship.

How is networking important for landing a job for career changers?

Jen: Sure. The beauty of LinkedIn is that you can add everyone that you would want to network with at some point now or in the future. It’s much easier to reach out to people in a professional manner through LinkedIn. Even if it’s just an old classmate, an old coworker, or whoever. Everyone knows someone else. Think of your network as everyone you’ve had a positive relationship with and think highly of you. These are the people who have networks you might be able to tap into.

Adam: I think that’s an important point. I interviewed Alex Guggenberger last week and he suggested to build a friendvestor community. So it’s kind of what you were mentioning here, you need to find the people who are really positive about you and your career, and you need to stay in touch with them. Did you have a friendvestor community that’s helped you in your career?

Jen: I think, to be honest, there might be one or two people and I think of as mentors. It just really depends on what you are looking for. My network is really big, and I think of them as equals. But as a recruiter, my network just naturally has to be wider. I don’t think that would be the same for someone else. I think someone else might have a good handful of people.

Adam: Right, at very least a mentor or something like that can kind of guide you through your process. It’s really important to build your network with people you can count on.

For a career changer, what kind of insights and tips that you can give?

Jen: I would start with the people you do know. It could be your aunt or uncle that you just think of as family. You might have forgotten what they do for work but they might know someone who can help you. I would put everything on an Excel sheet and I would track your activities. And just coming up with this list of people you know and reach out to those people who might know relevant people, and build outwards. Another way is that on LinkedIn, you’re actually able to export your contacts into an excel sheet. If you already have a LinkedIn network, make sure to go through that.

I also help my clients with cold networking, and it really has had a huge impact on them. You should do some searching on LinkedIn and try to figure out who the hiring manager is or who the recruiter might be, and then reaching out to them on LinkedIn. You might not get a response but if you a well prepared and relevant LinkedIn profile, why wouldn’t that person want to speak with you?

Adam: I totally agree. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile and identifying the decision-maker is super important.

Jen: The message you sent to them needs to be short and concise. And, this is where you need a strong elevator pitch. So it’s about figuring out who your most relevant people and start to reach out to them.

Adam: Definitely, you don’t want to waste time on people that won’t be able to help you How like how often do you keep touch with people? How often would you recommend to keep in touch with a hiring manager?

Jen: Probably not too often. You don’t want to bombard someone. But, every three to six months, to make sure that the person remembers you. Every like quarter or something like should be enough.

Adam: That’s good advice. We were talking about this a little bit before the interview. You don’t just want to network with the hiring managers, but it’s also the recruiters themselves. When you apply to a job, you need people to vouch for your motivations and your work ethic.

Jen: Yeah. If you have a good rapport with that person, then in that instance, I would probably follow up every six weeks. But with recruiters, you absolutely want to check in more because they always get new candidates and you don’t want to be forgotten. There’s are just so many people in the database, it’s easy for them to move on to another candidate.

Adam: A lot of job opportunities and a lot of the best jobs are really hidden in the marketplace. So you need to have some type of connections so that they notice you.

People want to hire someone they know. And that’s where networking comes in handy.

Jen: You’re absolutely right. I still do recruitment on the side and I do get roles that aren’t posted. So, you should definitely keep in touch with recruiters and hiring managers for that purpose.

Adam: Well, I think we’ve used up all out time for this second Tap Your Network interview. Thanks a lot, Jen for this great chat and super insightful information. Anyone reading this, I suggest to check out Career Real Talk, I’ll put the link in the interview and look out for Jen.

She can definitely help you to position yourself for that dream job.

Jen: Thanks, Adam.

About Adam Dorfman: Concerned about the stagnation in higher education and the rapidly changing jobs marketplace, I have been particularly interested in developing solutions that combine technology, managing professional networks, and building new career paths. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tap Your Network which is a personal CRM app designed for career advancement. If you are interested in being featured in this series, you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn or leave a comment below.