Life after WYWM:  A Guide to Networking 

WithYouWithMe - January 30, 2022

Life after WYWM:  A Guide to Networking 

What happens after you complete training through WYWM?  How do you go about finding a job when you’re new to an industry?  In this article I’ll walk you through the steps that I found most helpful when looking for a job after completing WYWM’s training.  While my experience is with RPA, I believe the strategies and tips are applicable across all pathways and industries.  My aim is to give you some tools and ideas to take with you as you find your new career and hopefully make the process a little less daunting. 

Before we jump in, I’d like to point out that the Potential platform has a “Jobs” section with current job opportunities.  It will show you how well you’re matched for each position, and you can apply right there on the website.  It’s a great resource that I highly recommend checking out if you haven’t already done so.  However, if you find yourself needing to look for a job beyond what’s offered on the platform, this article is for you.   

After you complete your WYWM pathway, attaining professional certification is the next step if there is an industry standard for the career you’re in.  This certification demonstrates competency and credibility, especially when you’re looking for your first role in the field.  For RPA, this means getting certified in Blue Prism, UiPath, or Automation Anywhere.  Being certified in one software is typically enough when looking for a job, though you’ll be more competitive if you obtain multiple certifications.  Personally, I got certified in Blue Prism first, and then pursued UiPath certification while I searched for job.  

When it comes to job hunting, the typical advice is to apply to at least 10- 15 jobs per week to maximize your chances of getting called in for an interview.  Each job you apply for online will probably have you fill out a form and upload your resume. The problem with this is that most hiring sites use applicant tracking systems (ATS), which is a resume keyword scanning software used to determine which applicants are worth a look by the HR department.  So, if your resume doesn’t contain the right keywords, your application will probably be disregarded without a human ever looking at it.  There are ways to try to work around this, of course, such as incorporating the key words from the job listing into your resume.  This is a great tip, but unfortunately a lack of relevant experience will still most likely get your application discarded.  Plus, you’re competing with dozens, maybe even hundreds of other people for one position.  Just getting called in for an initial interview is hard.   

As depressing as this sounds, I’ve found that networking is a much more effective and efficient way of going about the job search.  The people in your network are the ones that will tell you about job openings (in fact, 80% of jobs are not posted online), they’ll put in a referral for you when you apply to their company which will pump your application up to the top of the list, and they may even be in a position with hiring authority to hire you themselves.  It’s all about who you know, and LinkedIn, as the world’s largest professional network on the internet, is absolutely then best tool for this.  

So how exactly does this work?  Here are the steps I recommend going through to build your network: 
  1. Create a LinkedIn account and build your profile 

A quick note for those of you in the United States: If you’re a US service member, veteran or military spouse, you can get a 1-year subscription to LinkedIn Premium for free.  You can find the information for service members here and the information for spouses here.  While certainly not necessary, Premium is great because it gives you access to LinkedIn Library, which has tutorials on how to build your profile and grow your network, among other perks. 

  1. Send Connect Requests with a personalized message 

You can use the search function on LinkedIn to find people in the industry you’re entering.  For example, I searched for RPA and sent a connect request to every single person I could find in an RPA role.  Along with the request, I put in a personalized message to let them know who I was.  People are much more likely to connect when they receive a note from you.  Mine went something like this: 

“Hi Tom, I’d love to connect with you.  I’m moving from my background in education to an RPA Developer role and so trying to connect with more people in the RPA world.” 

Characters are limited, so make it short, personal and to the point.  If you are currently in the military, you can mention that you’re transitioning out of the service.  I found that most people were happy to connect and many even offered to answer any questions I had.   

  1. Send a follow-up message 

I typically sent a quick follow-up message to anyone who accepted the connect request (regardless of whether they wrote back) to express appreciation as well as let them know I was looking for job opportunities.  For example: 

“Thank you for connecting, Tom!  Happy to be part of your network.  I’m actively looking for RPA jobs; if you ever hear of any openings I’d be so grateful if you’d let me know.” 

It was a no-pressure message that didn’t require a response back from them, but it left the door open if they wanted to reply.  Even if they don’t know of any openings right now, they can check back in with you later if they do hear of one.  

  1. Have your resume ready to send out 

Just from these two messages, I had quite a few people ask for my resume, either because they were in a position with some hiring authority or because they wanted to bring it up with their manager.  So, be sure you have a professional, up-to-date resume ready to go so you can send it out promptly when requested.   

I know how hard it can be to put together a resume if you’ve been in the military or have had a non-conventional career.  If you’re looking for some advice, I’d suggest the book Signs of a Great Resume (Veterans Edition): How to write a resume that speaks for itself by Scott Vedder.  It will show you how to explain your military experience in a way civilians can understand, and how to quantify that experience to make it stand out.   

  1. Always say yes to informational interviews, and don’t be afraid to ask for them 

Informational interviews can give you valuable insight into the industry, career paths and job requirements.  They’re also a great networking tool.  If someone offers to chat with you, say yes!  Show up with questions and topics you’d like to discuss and learn more about.  It can be around the person's role in the company, how they got there, what tools would be most valuable for you to learn right now, advice they have for you, or anything else you think is helpful or interesting.  The most important thing is that you’re interested in what they have to share and enthusiastic about joining the industry.  You can also ask if the person has anyone else in their network who might be willing to connect with you.   

If you come across someone who you think would be beneficial to talk to, don’t be afraid to ask them if they would be willing to have a quick chat.  Maybe it’s someone who has walked a similar path as you and you can learn from their experience, or someone you know has your dream job and you want to ask what steps you can take now to help you get there.  If you share your story and your goals, most people are enthusiastic about helping you out and taking the time to talk with you.  

In addition to LinkedIn, another awesome place to connect with people is Veterati, a veteran mentorship platform.  Veterati sets up free, 1-hour mentorship phone calls between a successful professional and a Service Member, Veteran or Military Spouse.  Once you create an account on their platform, you can search for mentors with specific skills and browse through their areas of expertise.  And, you can speak with as many mentors as you like.  It’s a fantastic way to expand your network, get advice from someone in the industry, and even discuss your resume and interviewing skills.  I highly recommend it.   

Hopefully, as your network grows and develops, the more job opportunities you’ll see come your way and you’ll have the advantage of a referral or personal connection when you apply for a position.  Pivoting careers and launching into a new industry can be so daunting and challenging, but I hope these pieces of advice on building a network are useful as you find your next role.  

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