I participate in the Career Collective, a community of bloggers who convene and give their takes on a singular topic once a month. Up this time: outdated job search beliefs or rules that are made to be broken. 4322985400_4040be8509_z

Given that it's Groundhog Day and hundreds of journalists and on-lookers are gathered to tell us if a singular groundhog, Punxsutawny Phil, will see his shadow or not, I'm going to talk about what I call the "shadow myth": The idea that you are only presenting yourself accurately in your job search if you conduct your job search on your own--without help.

You know the oft-quoted statistic on networking, but I'll repeat it anyway: A majority of non-entry level job offers are the direct result of networking. A job search conducted entirely on the couch or behind a computer monitor is less likely to yield results.

Research or not, it's very tempting to conduct your job search on your own for a number of reasons: you can preserve your privacy, avoid the "did you hear from them yet?" question from others, and leave the feedback to your perspective employer instead of others. If you're a private person or someone who doesn't like to share everything with everyone--this strategy can feel good. If only it worked.

Unless you are currently employed and have a highly unique and sought after skill, the private job search has a lower likelihood of success. You need others to give you leads and perspective. After all, who's the first person you look for in a group photo? Yourself. To paraphrase the late Walker Percy, "you've spent a lifetime with yourself, don't you know what you look like?" Somethings are just hard to do on your own.

Most people you meet will develop a first impression of you in less than 30 seconds, an employer--on average--gives you less than 15. It's worth getting feedback from friends, mentors, and colleagues so that you know how you appear to others. And as I mentioned, since the people you know can also share the leads that will very likely lead to your next job--it's a no-brainer.

If Punxsatawney Phil sees his own shadow today, there will be six more weeks of winter. Disrupt your shadow by getting other people to help you in your job search, and you may shorten the time it takes for you to land your next gig.

In my post last month, I announced that I am working with StartWire, a new social collaboration platform that allows job seekers to get help from a closed private network of trusted friends that they create. (Your tweets may go into the Library of Congress, but StartWire status updates stay inside the system and will never be visible on any social graph.)

StartWire is based on the concept that a few people who have your back can expedite your job search. On average, most of us know about 600+ people--and a lot of what we know about them isn't on LinkedIn, Facebook or any other online website. Job seekers can use StartWire to share their interests, ask questions of friends, and get feedback on their resume and job search targets--all in private. It's like a buddy system for your job search.

StartWire is now in open beta. Consider this your invitation to check it out and let me know what you think. (You can also contact me if you have questions or want to learn more.)  But most of all, I hope you won't see your shadow this winter--and wish you every success.

Photo by J. Stephen Conn.

Here are additional posts on the topic of job hunting rules to break from my savvy colleagues and fellow members of the Career Collective: