Monday, November 16, 2009

20 Job Search Answers You Need To Know | #3 Why do I need to network when I can find my job on

A: Because most of those jobs are NOT real (or have already been filled).

Okay – so I don’t have the or CareerBuilder police after me, there’s no way of knowing how many jobs on those sites are real. It’s not that you want to ignore those sites --absolutely not! You need to have daily agents running on all of the major job sites (and any others sites that are specialized to your industry). But with studies indicating that approximately 70% of all jobs are found through networking, you need to spend most of your hard-hitting energy playing the odds (spending quality time where it will most payoff).

The what before the how

We’ll cover how to start network in an upcoming post (since I am trying to get one of these 20 Job Search Answers You Need To Know posts under 1,000 words - since I was clowned for verbosity earlier today) but here are 4 key thoughts that ran through my grey matter on why networking is so darned important:

Never look for a job by yourself  You’ve only got two eyes – and you can’t be everywhere. However, your network has a much wider reach. The saying used to be never read the want ads alone – but that’s a tad stale (and gone the way of the horse and buggy, IBM Selectric typewriter and the VCR). There are now so many other places to look (seen and be seen) it can be staggering.  Ergo – you need some help.

What you want is someone in your network to think of you -- and connect in their mind you and an opportunity (for a job, or to network with someone new) when they have one. Some examples of how your network can be of help to you:

  • They receive a job referral that is not a fit for them and they pass it to you
  • A hiring manager who interviewed you in the past that now has another opening that you are even better suited for sends you an email (since you already had coffee at Starbucks scheduled for next week)
  • Your Mom’s company has opening (don’t laugh – it works).  Hopefully she calls you first and doesn’t tell the hiring manager who smart you are and how cute you were as a baby
  • A sales guy at your last company is working with a prospect that has a hiring need in your wheelhouse and she DMs you on Twitter
  • The Rotor-Rooter guy who cleaned the poop out of your tub tells you his son just got a job at company that still is hiring a lot of folks that do what you do for a living (I had a real gabby Roto-Rooter guy last time)
  • Someone you are on a committee with at church works for the hiring manager that you want to interview with and she gives you his email address
  • Your wife sees a Help Wanted sign in the window of one of your target companies (Hey! Low tech is here to stay) and sends you a text

Repeat after me: Networking is not who you know but who knows you

Screens keep more that flys out Your primary mission during your job search sorties is to get a sit down with the person who has the job (the hiring manager). You also want to do so with talking to as few people beforehand as possible - because these folks can work as a screen to keep you out. These screen come in all shapes:

  • The junior HR intern who doesn’t understand the open job requisition so he doesn’t know what’s on your resume that matches (nor the cover letter you added to do just that).
  • The evil (future) peer who either (1) wants the job for themselves and is pissed they are considering your sorry ass and/or (2) wants someone less talented than they are (to avoid competition). Either way – they will attempt to U-boat you before you get one foot in the door.
  • All the other external candidates that are King Of The Hill-ing you (and are better at networking than you…at least for the moment)

Simply put: You want the hiring manager picking up the phone and making the first call to you when they need a body (before HR or before some chowder that already works for them). It’s that Pavlovian response that is the money shot of the job search.

You personal AWACS reconnaissance mission There is more to networking than connecting you and opportunities – it can also help you seal the deal. Use your network to supplement the research you have done on the company already and (more importantly) to get downlo on the specific folks you will be working with and for. We’re not talking email addresses and cell phone numbers  – but what makes them tick, what do they look for in candidates and what really peeves them. This intelligence can be your secret weapon against the competition (that is all the other rubes who applied for the job).

An example:  Last year, I referred a (talented) former client of mine to the company I was working for at the time.  During her candidate process, we spent hours on the phone (most of mine from a gate at JFK airport) going over the personalities and desires of each person she was to interview with. This was detailed reconnaissance (down to buzzwords they liked). The result?  She got the job, I got a referral bonus (yessir!) and my (now former) employer got a fantastic, well-prepared employee. 

This is an extremely powerful aspect of networking that is often overlooked.

Instant Karma’s Gonna Get You I am a big believer of the karma wheel (d/b/a pay it forward).  It is all about love and math.  The more you hook-up people, the larger your network grows and the greater number of folks there are in the world (and more importantly the workplace) that are walking (Faberge Shampoo-like) commercials for you. But the latter really needs to be subtext. You need to hook-up folks (no strings attached) and let the karma take care of itself. It is not as subtle as it may sound (if it is – then you’re not in the right place when you’re doing it)


Up Next: How do I start to network?


Disclaimer: As with all job search advice you receive (from here or elsewhere), results may vary – use at your own risk. You must be the captain of your own career. The last thing I say to all my career coach clients is “ignore what you want, use what make sense to you – and if something works for you – pass it on”.

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