Client Story: 3 Career Habits That Helped Me Land a New Role Quickly

By Nicole Ramos

I know that looking for a new role can be tough. And one thing that can make it hard is seeing other people’s successes, especially if it feels like you’re struggling. 

But remember: when you see that new job announcement on LinkedIn, what you don’t see is the time, energy, and hard work that it took to get there. 

That’s why I want to share my story with you. 

First things first 

First, a quick backstory: last summer I wasn’t planning to look for a new role. But my employer’s return to office mandate meant that I would need to relocate to keep my current role, and that was off the table for my family. 

So I knew I’d need to make a career move, but I was nervous about the changing conditions of the job market and I also wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted in my next role, other than the ability to stay in my current city.  

Luckily, as a past client (and team member!) of Careers for Social Impact, I knew what to do – and I landed 3 competitive job offers in just a few months. 

But that’s not the whole story. 

The real story is about how all the work and preparation I had put in before that point helped me achieve this result.  

It’s about how the approach I have taken for years to managing my career made this process much smoother, and how I chose to strategically spend my time and energy on the things that would make the biggest impact.

So without further ado, here are the three things I did (and will continue to do) to be proactive about my career and make sure I’m always prepared for what’s next.

1. Cultivate your network, and connect to reflect 

Before starting an active search, I wanted to reflect a bit and figure out what types of roles and organizations I would be seeking out. I started by connecting with five people in my “inner circle” to talk about my next steps. These were people I felt comfortable reaching out to and being a little vulnerable with, like mentors and former colleagues. 

Everyone said yes, because of the strong relationships I had built with them previously. The time I had invested in my network over the years made this part feel really seamless, and because I was early in the process it was easy to warm up these connections without the pressure of an urgent job search. 

My outreach looked something like: “I’m thinking about what might be next for me in the near future, but I’m not quite ready to transition yet. Would love to catch up and learn where you are on your career journey! Let’s grab a virtual coffee soon?”  

During our calls I went in with lots of curiosity, and no expectations about a particular outcome. These informal conversations allowed me to start generating and talking through ideas in a safe space, before feeling like I needed a more refined “ask” for networking conversations. 

These chats helped me think about what types of roles I’d be seeking next, and they helped prime my connections for the next phase of my search, when I would need to ask for their help making introductions or serving as references. 

Pro tip: you never know when or how people in your network will be able to help you (or vice versa!), so focus on building great relationships first, and the rest will follow. 

Ideas for you: 

  • If you’re considering your next move: Who in your network can you connect with to help you reflect? Identify 4-5 people you trust to have informal conversations with as you consider what’s next, and start reaching out. 
  • If you’re thinking longer term: How can you proactively cultivate your current network? For example: regularly reach out to someone you already know to reconnect, share what you’re each working on, and explore how you can help each other. You never know what opportunities might result, and it will feel easier to reach back out to these folks when you are ready to make a career move if you’ve stayed in contact along the way.

2. Network in new spaces 

After doing some more thinking and planning, I reached back out to my original five contacts and let them know I was ready to start searching. I shared more about what I was looking for and asked if they knew anyone I should speak with.  

That did generate a few new connections, but more surprising were the contacts and job leads that came from unexpected places. 

For example: I mentioned to my daughter’s school principal that I was job searching, and she suggested I talk to another parent who works at a local nonprofit organization. I reached out to her and we had coffee – and it turns out her nonprofit was preparing to hire for a role not yet posted. 

This lead ended up generating one of the job offers I considered! And it never would have happened if I hadn’t had the courage to share that I was looking, and to think “outside the box” of my existing professional network. 

So often we only consider our professional networks when thinking about our next move, but it’s important to remember that you are part of many different networks that could lead you to your next opportunity. 

Consider all the networks you’re part of as places to network – hobbies you participate in, parent networks, alumni groups, and more. You know more people than you think! 

I also made sure to network within my current organization. When it’s time to make a move we often think we need to go somewhere new – and while sometimes that’s true, there can also be opportunities closer to home if we seek them out. Since I was working at a large company, I made an effort to learn about other teams and explore whether there could be opportunities internally that would allow me to stay local.

Taking a “people first” approach like this has many benefits, especially in the social impact space, which can be so non-linear. Impact opportunities can be wide-ranging and harder to find through more reactive methods like searching job boards, so it’s extra important to network expansively in this space. 

As I experienced, this approach can help you learn about opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise hear about, often before they become public – which allows you and the organization to get to know each other before they are flooded with applications.

Ideas for you: 

  • If you’re considering your next move: What personal networks can you leverage to uncover new professional contacts? 
  • If you’re thinking longer term: How can you incorporate new or different networks you’re a part of into your overall networking approach and strategy?

3. Make building your career muscle a regular habit 

Probably my most important tip is to always be building your career “muscles”, so that you’ll be ready to transition to something new whenever you need or want to. 

For me, this has looked like actively looking at new job opportunities about once a quarter, even when I’m not planning to make a move. Three to four times a year I find and apply to a few interesting jobs, with the goal of having at least one interview or networking conversation to learn more. 

I have made this a habit because I want to stay current on what’s happening in the market and also to remind myself that there are great opportunities out there for me, and that I always have a choice whether to stay or leave my current role. 

I specifically focus on applying and interviewing for jobs because that is the hardest part of the process for me. This approach allows me to keep my job search muscles toned, so that when I do decide to look for something new it doesn’t feel overwhelming and I’m not starting from scratch. 

I don’t ever want to feel stuck in a job where I’m not happy, or feel paralyzed if I’m laid off unexpectedly. By proactively toning my “apply and interview” muscles several times a year, I ensure that I keep my materials up to date and that I’m always ready to talk about myself and my accomplishments. 

I recognize that this is a more time intensive practice that may not work for everyone! There are lots of ways to keep your career muscles in shape that don’t require a big time commitment; the key is to identify what you need to focus on and a way to fit it into your schedule. 

So for example, maybe the muscle you need to build is growing your network, and you can aim to connect with one new person each month. Or maybe you need to spend more time reflecting on your strengths and what you actually might want to do next, so a next step could be to block out regular time for this each month or quarter. 

Consider what you tend to avoid or what feels hardest when it comes to your career – that’s the muscle you probably need to build.  

Ideas for you: 

  • If you’re considering your next move: Which part of the career transition process do you find most challenging? How can you work on strengthening that “muscle” now? 
  • If you’re thinking longer term: What habit could help you consistently tone your career “muscles” so you’re prepared to pursue new opportunities when the time comes? 

Final thoughts

I’m happy to share that after receiving three exciting offers, I ultimately decided to take a role on a new team in my current organization that fit my professional criteria for making an impact and my personal one to stay local. 

I hope that hearing more about my experience helps shed light on what it takes to find a new opportunity, and how putting in the time to proactively manage your career on a regular basis pays off when it’s time to make a transition.

If you’re already doing the things I’ve outlined here, keep at it! You’re on the right track. And if there’s something new here for you, I encourage you to push out of your comfort zone and give it a try. 

And if you’re thinking you’ll come back to this post when it’s time to job search – don’t wait until then to take charge of your career! Identify some habits you can put in place today so that you can approach your next career move from a place of strength. 

About the Author

Nicole Ramos is a Senior Program Manager at Amazon, where she creates impact for women- and minority-owned small businesses. Nicole has built her social impact career working across sectors. She was previously the Vice President of Talent, Programs and Evaluation at BUILD.org, a non-profit serving low-income youth. She’s also worked as a consultant to nonprofits and biotech companies, a director of public health programs in the migrant farmworker community, and a high school teacher. And she’s a past client and team member of Careers for Social Impact!

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