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Human resources strategist, VF Career Management, Calgary office

Many of us know others who are unemployed, voluntarily or involuntarily, people who are searching for that next meaningful opportunity to showcase their years of earned skills, or advance to the next level of their career.

Especially mid-career, this can be a daunting task: full of disappointment, rejections and, sadly, outright rudeness.

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It takes courage to actively look for a job – and by actively, I mean networking. This involves calling people you know, and those you don’t know, asking for information, leads and advice on continuing your search. It takes co-ordination, determination and a commitment to overlook the negativity one encounters, and to focus on the positive feedback.

Those who help people looking for work are usually more helpful than they realize. It takes only one good connection or one good recommendation to help job searchers land the role they’re seeking.

Looking for a new role is often a humbling experience. People believe that years of experience and a record of achievements make the search easier.

Rather, it makes it harder because experience gives people more of a sense of what they don’t want – not necessarily what they do want.

When e-mails and phone calls do not get returned, when interviews go well without the job being clinched, they learn a great deal about themselves, and those around them.

They should never be ashamed to admit it.

Fourteen months ago, a friend quit her executive vice-president position and embarked on a challenging search for a new role in a tough job market.

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With 20 years of experience, she searched for the right role, in the right organization. She sought the help of others through her extensive networking strategy. It was fraught with both positive and negative moments.

Ultimately, she landed a terrific role in a startup that is offering her the challenges and satisfaction she was looking for.

To bring the experience full circle she sent a personal note to her network of people – not just about her new role, but articulating what the experience was like for her. One of the most pointed excerpts:

If you’re receiving this e-mail, you belong to a very special group of people that have truly offered their support to me throughout this past year. You supported my decision to make a change, opened doors for me, expanded my network by connecting me with some new and interesting people, offered me work and, more importantly, your words of encouragement on the days when I needed it.

This time has confirmed much of what I knew about myself and shone the light on some things I didn’t. It has also brought into focus the importance of genuine friends and sincerity in business. I’m very grateful to know you.

I hope there will be a time in the future when I can return the same generosity you have extended to me. As I get settled in my new role, I will be sure to forward along contact details.

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This was a step many of us do not see often, and especially one that many do not have the courage to admit.

We offer our help, just to see a LinkedIn notification that a change of employment has happened. The personal touch is not there – and it should be. It tells people that their help mattered, in ways that they may not realize. They had an influence on another person; they may have changed a perspective or sparked a revelation. People may not know they have this power, but they do.

A note like this reminds us.

So bring the search full circle: Inform those involved in your search not only where you landed but what impact this time had in your life. It takes courage to do this, but no more courage than it takes to make that first phone call asking for help.

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