The American Planning Association (APA) 2012 National Conference: “Reinvent, Reinvigorate, Reimagine” in Los Angeles, CA provided opportunities for job seekers to “ReIMAGINE Career(s).” The first of a series of presentations about job hunting was a session entitled Resumes for Today’s Economy led by three experienced hiring mangers. Having attended the session, I came away with several lessons I hope to use to find employment opportunities in the future:
1. Don’t be shy
To start off the session, Dwight Merriam, a Partner at Robinson & Cole LLP, handed out “Hire Me” green stickers that were provided by the APA to help identity planners seeking employment opportunities. The stickers attached to the conference badges and helped break the ice between planners looking for jobs and potential employers throughout the conference. During your job search you have to be willing and able to meet new people and convey your interest in opportunities they may provide.
2. Meet online, but also face-to-face
Throughout the session, all of the panelists also pointed out the importance of networking. Though they all admitted they used social networking sites, they emphasized that social networking could not replace traditional face-to-face interactions.
3. Work the room
Mark Bower, Group Vice President of The HOK Planning Group in Dallas, stressed the importance of working the room during a professional event. He suggested that if you consider yourself an introvert to start slowly and become an “actor” portraying yourself. Attending conferences, like the 2012 APA Conference, and making contacts within your field is important, but you can only be successful in networking if you follow up interactions with a thoughtful email or card related to your conversation.
4. Let everyone know that you’re looking
His fellow panelist, Jennifer Lilley, Founder and Principal of Lilley Planning Group, indicated that networking was important because, in her experience, word of mouth was the best way to find a job. Once a position was posted on a website, she explained, it is probably too late to apply. She also emphasized the importance of continuing to network (and updating your resume) even if you have a job, because you never know when you might want to look for new opportunities.
“Treat job hunting kind of like dating,” Lilley suggests. “It is appropriate to share pieces of information at certain times.” By putting yourself out there, making new contacts and following up with them, you can build a network that could help you secure an urban planning opportunity in the future.
What guidance or advice have you used to successfully find a job or secure an interview?
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