Post Academic

The Pros of Word-of-Mouth

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on July 7, 2010
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PhotobucketUsually, word-of-mouth refers to rumors and gossip. At best, it seems more suitable for a viral video than it is for academic work. Yet word-of-mouth is one of those intangibles that might get you a job, either in or out of the academy.

Freelance writers in particular rely on word-of-mouth to build up a client base. Writer Dachary Carey,* who covers a range of topics on the life of a freelancer, writes:

First and foremost: treat every job like a big job. Don’t put small jobs off because they’re ‘small’ and they won’t pay you much; treat your small clients with the same respect and responsiveness that you provide your ‘big’ clients. You never know when a small client can refer a big client, or even when a small client expands the scope of his business or marketing efforts and needs more from you.

The mantra “treat every job like a big job” is worth keeping in mind as you make any career transition. When moving from academia to the Hamster World, you will need to take on “small jobs” that may be small in quantity of work, pay or prestige. You have to prove yourself first, and then the work will follow.

For that reason, you need to minimize any trash talk or negative feelings regarding small jobs. You may feel tempted to brush off a small client, but no one ever, ever likes to be “looked down” upon. It can be exhausting to treat all jobs like they are important, but the key to avoid burnout is to employ smart time management skills … a subject that will appear later.

*I worked with Dachary for two years, and I’ll use her word-of-mouth tips and recommend her work. Even if you don’t need a freelance writer, her blog can help you with tips on self-employment.

Image of “The Conversation” by Danielle Scott, on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Resources: LinkedIn

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on March 25, 2010
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Networking is one of the most painful parts about building a career, especially if you are a shy person who prefers to have a nose in a book. I consider myself one of those shy people. I also liked to believe that I could let my merit speak for me and that I didn’t have to be “fake” and schmooze my way up the ladder.

However, I discovered that networking is really just making acquaintances—and possibly terrific friends—who happen to have the same career interests you do. Think of how you make friends after moving to a new town or starting a new stage in life. You probably ask friends you currently have if they know anyone in that area or that school. Then you spend time with those people, and your circle of friends expands. And that’s all networking is, except you might talk about career trends more, and you can’t drink as much, lest you embarrass yourself in front of a potential employer.

The Web site is a way for you to get accustomed to networking. If you’re already on Facebook, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t open an account on LinkedIn, which is like Facebook, only with more resume info and fewer embarrassing photos.

By signing up on LinkedIn, you can find friends of yours, and you can also search for specific companies. When you perform a company search, you can find out if you know anyone who works at one of those companies. A connection can work behind the scenes to help you get hired at a job. It isn’t fair, but, as Arnold writes about the myth of pure merit, networking can get you a job, especially if a company can choose only one applicant from a pool of equally worthy individuals.


**As always, this post isn’t intended to be an ad, but if we come across a site that will save you time or get you a new job, then we’re plenty happy to spread the word.