Human Collateral: How Two Years of Networking Resulted in a Job

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In January 2008, after 20 years on Wall Street, Francine Colon was laid off from her compliance position at Citigroup. Nearly two years later, she landed a job as a supervisory analyst with a Spanish investment firm. She told her story to Emma Johnson.

This process has been extremely difficult. I've had lots of ups and downs and several false starts. I almost didn't believe it when I was offered this job. Over the two years I was unemployed I explored lots of networking avenues and used a career coach who encouraged me to join more groups online, including one for supervisory analysts. That's where I saw the listing for my current position, posted by someone I knew. I reached out to him and ultimately got the job.

I really believe in networking, but you have to do it strategically. I'd never go to a party for only unemployed people - they need to be more focused. It also helps to meet with your contacts face-to-face, instead of just following up by phone or e-mail. People get busy and forget to return your messages. Plus, half of my contacts are now out of work themselves. When I learn of opportunities that would be of interest, I pass them along.

I also got a grant through the New York labor department for a certificate in ethics and corporate governance at New York University, and became certified to be an arbitrator with FINRA. These are great ways to meet people, learn new skills and have something to talk about in the interview process.

At one event a job coach spoke and said that serendipity plays a big role in the search, and I think it does. But I was also persistent. I talked to a lot of people and I kept at it. To cope I talked a lot with family members and friends for support, but I don't think there is an easy way to deal with this.

Emma Johnson is a New York based journalist who writes about money, business and finance for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes, MSN Money and others. Reach her at <a

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