Get the right job faster

by Sarah Dawson | May 22, 2015

The emails no one responds to, the endless number of Internet job postings reviewed and applied to and the dead-end leads. These can be common experiences for job seekers and can be the makings of a real life crisis that sometimes ensues when trying to navigate a career change.

It's a battle that can break the spirit of just about any job seeker – even the most experienced professional! But, stress no more – Western alumnus and Alumni Association volunteer Warren Bongard, LLB’91, and I have a few solutions that will help ease the transition from career changer to career enthusiast and help you get the right job faster.

Ask for help
As President and Co-Founder of ZSA Legal Recruitment, Warren Bongard notes that “one of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is being nervous and uncomfortable about asking for help.” Warren suggests trusting your network to help you when you need it. Consider if including a headhunter or search firms make sense for your goals and know that doing so will simply diversify your network, not eliminate work on your end. In addition, tap into your broader Western alumni network via LinkedIn and consider joining the Western alumni discussion board.

Be a good listener
Being nervous, insecure or even just having a high level of investment in the outcome tends to cause people to talk too much. Instead, just listen! “The worst mistake you can make is to go into a conversation by trying to sell yourself and make it all about you. Ask good questions and take the time to really hear what is said,” Warren advises. Conversations of this nature usually entail a little advice-giving. If this is the case, don’t forget to stay in touch with your contact, let them know the action you took as a result of the meeting and what the impact was. A thank you is a must; the follow-up will set you apart.

Maintain visibility
Whether you are actively looking or thinking about looking, you should be consistent in updating your profiles, as hiring decisions go beyond looking at technical skill sets. Being authentic and having the emotional intelligence to realize that all of your actions and interactions build your reputation and image can make a positive impact when it comes to your next opportunity. Warren can’t stress enough the power of emotional equity: “build emotional equity by offering to help others whenever you can.”

Here are a few extra tips that didn't make the cut. We hope it helps keep your eye on the prize!

Don’t know where to start? There are 3 three key steps in career management: decide what you want and develop your job search plan, identify your targets and market yourself. You typically can’t skip a step without a short circuit.

Consider more than an iteration of what you’ve done in the past. People reinvent themselves all the time; figure out what you can do with the skill sets you’ve developed. It all starts with a vision. What is yours? Begin by writing a few words or sentences describing your aspirations, or guiding principles, then focus in on what the ideal image of your future looks like.

As we all know, managing your career can be one of the toughest jobs in the world, and we’d like to make it easier with little help from Western and our alumni! Do you have any advice for navigating a career transition or helping to manage your career better? Please share your advice on Twitter with the hashtag #purpleandproud @sarahcdawson23. Or email us at

Looking for more? Western Alumni Career Management offers supports to alumni and is accessible online.