If you never leave your network you never have to “comeback”
By: Brianna Koucos
Our careers and our lives are constantly changing. With so many twists and turns it is almost
guaranteed that our career plans will not remain stagnant. Recently the term “comeback parent”
has been coined for the parent who has left a paid position outside the home to raise a family, and
is now returning to paid external employment. There are many different types of individuals who
are moving out of a traditional career. Some leave to take care of an aging relative, start a private
practice or a business, or even work part-time from home. While juggling various roles in life, it is
important to manage our careers even if it is not currently the highest priority. Networking is an
important way to tend to your career at all times.
No matter what the circumstance, networking is a key component to success. “Women who make
the most seamless transitions back into the workforce are those who don’t ever leave it
completely” (Malungani, 2005). Mulgani wrote an article specifically for women returning to work
after maternity leave. However, the message is the same for all genders, ages and situations. If we
never leave our network, the transitions we make along the way can be easier. “Each stage of adult
life brings professional challenges that inevitably require the assistance of others to overcome and
goals that can be achieved only if you connect with the right people and information” (Tullier,
1998). Although most commonly associated with the job search process, networking has many
uses. For example, those going into private practice can find that networking and word-of-mouth
referrals are vital to success.
A student of mine found her dream job after she complemented someone on his sweater in line for
coffee. They started a conversation and she shared her career aspirations about wanting to work in
TV; and he just happened to be a producer of a reality series. This story demonstrates that
networking is not something that is only reserved for events and business lunches. Networking is a
daily part of life. Effective connections happen through building relationships and nurturing those
relationships with ongoing activity. Life takes us in different directions and we can make it easier
for ourselves if we keep up our network. The following are quick, low or no-cost suggestions for
maintaining your network:
The Internet provides many opportunities to stay connected. Email is a great way to write a
note to provide quick updates. Social networking sites are created to stay in touch.
Start a dinner or social networking group. Meet monthly to discuss your life- it doesn’t
have to be about job or career networking.
Update your resume before you leave your current situation. It will be much easier now
than later, and you always want to be prepared with an updated resume.
Send correspondence. If a person is recognized in a publication or a newspaper article, cut
it out and send it to them with a note. Call and congratulate them on their success. Write
thank you cards. Send e-newsletters, not just at the holidays. Let people know about the
projects in which you are involved. Keep people up-to-date on your projects.
Join your university alumni association. The networks you are already plugged into crosses
all professions and experiences. Send updates and attend events.
Earn a certificate through a continuing education program. This keeps your skills current
up-to-date and allows you to meet people with similar interests.
Attend events at your public library. Most events are free, educational, and will allow you
to meet some new people.
Regularly update those whom you list as your references. This will develop the relationship
even when you are not looking for a job.
The importance of networking was reiterated to me during my graduate program. A colleague
informed me she was leaving her position due to her growing family obligations. After leaving she
was no longer always in a hurry to be in five different places at once. She is now happy to have
the opportunity to manage her family well. However, she keeps up a strong network and knows
that wshen she is ready, her transition back to her career will be an easy one. Her decision caused
me to look deeper into what would make this change easier for her. I then dedicated the rest of my
study to investigating how people can weave in and out of their careers and discovered networking
is a key component. “No one person may provide for all of your developmental needs, but taken
together the entire network of your relationships can have a powerful impact on your career”
(Harrington and Hall, 2007). Creating a plan at the beginning of any career transition will helps
individuals move from one career or position to another type of career or lifestyle structure. For
any person, in any situation, the key is networking.
Hall, D.T., Harrington, B. (2007). Career Management and Work-Life Integration: Using Self-
Assessment to Navigate Contemporary Careers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Mulgani, M. (2005). Workforce Re-entry Strategies for Women.
Retrieved August 23, 2005 from http://wlb.monster.com/articles/sequencing
Tullier, L. M., Ph.D (1998). Networking for Everyone: Connecting with People for Career and Job
Success. Indianapolis, IN: JIST Works, Inc.
Brianna Koucos (firstname.lastname@example.org) received her M.A. in counseling with a
specialization in career development from the University of San Diego in 2007. She is currently
Assistant Director, Career Services in the Career Resource Center at Westminster College in Salt
Lake City, UT. She is a Board Eligible National Certified Counselor to complete the certification