Smashed Knees, Resilience and Networking

22 October, 2012

Having spent the last three months nursing a badly broken leg/smashed knee, I’ve wondered at various times how I could weave it into my Careers Blog. And I think that I have managed at last.

Or maybe it’s just that I now have the mental energy to actually write the darn thing!

A comment that I have received in various forms from almost everyone who has interacted with me in any meaningful way has been about how positive and resilient I have been.  (By the way, I am of course flattered by this observation, but not particularly proud.  I think I inherited my positive outlook from my father, Lawrie, so I don’t take any credit for it.  But that’s another story.)

So, what does this have to do with Careers? 

When I think about the many people I have worked with who were looking to revitalise their careers, the good old positive attitude has been critical, as has resilience.

To give a concrete example, let me talk about “Susan”.  She was a Chief Information Officer in Adelaide, where senior roles can be hard to come by.  As with most people, I convinced her of the power of Job Search networking (see Successful Networking: Sipping Champagne or Hitting the Pavement?).  Everybody you explain Job Search networking to clearly manages to “get” it intellectually.  

The difference with Susan was that she had the resilience to make 157 appointments over a 5 month period.  She got dressed every morning in her work clothes and picked up the phone.  She had the resilience to overcome what I term “call reluctance”, to keep going day after day, completing a difficult task.

And, she had the positive attitude which meant that not only did these strangers agree to meet her, they were impressed enough by her demeanour at the 20 minute networking meeting to give her further contacts. And so on.

Susan’s positive attitude and resilience surfaced in another form, as she was able to trust in the process of networking, month after long month.  You see, job success using networking only comes at the end i.e. it’s only when you get the job offer of your dreams that you can trace backwards through the various meetings that lead you there.

Interestingly, Susan and I had identified a pre-eminent organisation as a key target right at the beginning of her Job Search.  And, guess where she ended up?

There are only four ways to get a job and that will always be the case.  If you are currently looking to move on and you are only using strategies in the “Visible” job market, it may be time to gird your loins and extend your approach to incorporate Job Search networking. 

And, don’t forget that real Job Search networking means that you go beyond your immediate network of contacts.  It means that you pick up the phone and arrange to meet with a stranger.

At the very least, you will emerge at the end of your campaign a stronger, more resilient and hopefully more positive person.  And there’s no downside to that.

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Catherine Cunningham is Adelaide's leading career expert.  She appears regularly in The Weekend Australian Careers section, in The Advertiser's CareerOne, as well as in online publications such as, and

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