How Your “Industry Friends” Can KILL Your Job Search

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Everyone’s heard that cheesy old line that opposites attract. Unless you’re a magnet, this isn’t really true. Who wants to be best friends with someone who dislikes everything you like and has a hankering for every single thing you hate? Where’s the fun in all that? Everyone surrounds themselves with people who have at least something in common with each other. As we go through life we develop groupies, to phrase it simply enough. They’re people who we are connected to that share a common interest or perform some sort of role. However, could developing a network of similar professional contacts be hurting your job prospects?

It’s a natural tendency to gravitate towards people with a common bond. Nevertheless, sometimes it can be overdone. Ever pick up a friend for a night out and the two of you are wearing the same outfit? Awkward but no big deal. I’m not saying that you need to dump your friends and befriend strangers just to keep you on your toes. I’m saying that having all the same professional contacts can hold back your chances of getting ahead.

For instance, consider this quandary. You and your four friends are all business majors and are hitting the job market. You five all live in the same area and can’t really relocate without a job since the timer is ticking on those loan payments. However, there are only three jobs available that cater to your group’s specialty. Uh oh. Three jobs for five people. How helpful do you think your blossoming professional network is going to be with those odds?

True, one of your friends can get in and put some words in for you, maybe even get you a job doing the same thing. But, think about promotion and climbing the corporate ladder. Is that friend going to helpful when you’re both gunning for that hot new spot in middle management? Self interest would say no.

Having professional contacts in the same field as you can be helpful. You can be up to date on job offerings within your field and you can possibly get ahead. That isn’t really the problem. The real problem is if your whole professional network are just clones of you. Everyone’s gunning for the same thing. How is that helping anyone.

Diversify your network. If you’re a business person, aim to develop contacts that work in other fields. Your artist friend may not be able to help you now, but maybe down the road a finance position at his or her graphic design studio opened up. You already got a contact that is happy to pass that job position on to you. Spread out your feelers and get in touch with people who can offer you so much more than just a carbon copy of your dreams and aspirations.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comment section below.

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