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Posts Tagged ‘networking’

On Networking

July 19th, 2010 2 comments

Early in my recruiting career I was baffled by networking.  I was told by everyone that I worked with that “networking” was how I was going to find the best candidates, and how I’d be able to gain access to new clients.  So I dutifully attended various “networking events”, and I generally met two types of people: (1) active job seekers, many of whom had already applied to a position in my agency, and (2) other recruiters

This was an inefficient way to meet both these types of people, and I decided I was doing something wrong. This post from a recent college grad struck a chord with me when I read it, as it captures that feeling better than I ever could.

I was laid off in 2008, and was able to find a contract position and then a full time position that year through people I had worked with.  Exactly what people would call “networking”.  What happened in those 8 years? I didn’t become less introverted, or work hard on being better at networking. I simply met and worked with a bunch of people. I therefore had a larger group of people I could ask for help.

Many thoughtful and well-written pieces of advice assume that everyone can and should become a networker extraordinaire. They conflate my situation in 2008 with networking, and would probably cite it as an example of success.  I think that’s confusing and unhelpful.

Here’s why.  Networking is something that you do to build a large contacts list.  It involves putting yourself in situations where you will meet new people, establish a connection, and maintain some kind of relationship/dialogue over time.

What I do during job searches isn’t networking. I think of who I know that might be able to help me find a job. And I ask them if they can help me find a job.  The people I focus on, and those that are most helpful, are individuals that have actually seen my work. They’re the most likely to give me a meaningful recommendation.

Being well networked (i.e. knowing lots of people) certainly helps this process.  But I would contend that having a large number of people in your network has limited value in a job search.  Most of them don’t know you well enough to do any more than send job postings they see to you. Which you can do yourself.

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Job Search Conventional Wisdom #Fail

June 2nd, 2010 No comments

This post from a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic blog recycles a few pieces of irritating job search conventional wisdom. The first:

The old nostrum that “if a job is posted, it’s been filled” is generally true.

And another:

The reality is that 80% of jobs are filled via personal connections and relationships.

What drives me crazy about both of these sentiments is how unsubstantiated they are. Because they’re repeated so often, people are inclined to accept them, but I think they’re at best unhelpful.

Let’s start with the first. I’ve been a corporate recruiter for 6 years.  I’ll estimate that during that time I’ve filled about 425 positions.  And maybe 25 of those positions were filled with a pre-identified candidate, someone the hiring manager had in mind prior to the posting.

By no means is my experience universal. But at the same time I’m confident in saying that my experience is also not exceptional. So at best, I’m comfortable with the modified statement “if a job is posted, there’s a small chance it’s been filled.”

And now the second.  I don’t know if the 80% statistic is true (although note the lack of a source), but even if it is, so what? Aren’t those other 20% filled in another way? As it turns out, I’m currently in that 20% – I got my current job by applying for it online.  So I’ll take the 1 in 5 chances, particularly given how easy it is to apply for jobs online.

I guess what really gets to me about this kind of job search advice is the absolutism of it. I’m willing to accept that more people are hired through their relationships, but I think applying for jobs based on advertisements is an important part of a job search.  Because those ads represent actual jobs. And “networking” is, by its definition, at least a step removed from an actual job. Otherwise it would be called interviewing.