Guest post by Rock Tolman.
Networking resonates with many as being a tool in one’s hunt for employment. I argue that it is much more, if not everything. The days of printing resumes on nice cardstock and attaching them to pen-filled applications are over. No more will you find recruiters acting as headhunters beating the bush to find quality talent in an unsaturated market. Networking must be numero uno on any job seekers mind at any given moment throughout his or her day. However, there are right and wrong ways of networking.
The old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is being mistakenly interpreted as “It’s not who you know, but how many you know”. Those that think 800 friends on Facebook and 500+ connections on Linkedin qualifies them as having a well establish network might want to rethink their strategy. I like to think networking resembles the concept of ripples in water rather than the interconnection of weaving parts. Let me explain. Toss a rock into a still body of water and watch the ripples glide outward. Which rings are the largest? Those furthest away from the middle of course. You are in the center and while the easiest to reach ring is the smallest, it is closest to you. Your professional network is much the same. Those closest to you are within your reach and yield the most promise in getting your foot in the door at great job. Many times that job is only found in the outermost portions of your ripple, but realizing your ability to get noticed relies upon how strong your inner ring is adds to your chances of not just being another face in the crowd.
So who is in your inner ring? If it isn’t obvious, I’ll give you some people who are in mine. But before I do, I must say that a commitment to true networking is inseparable with a good dose of humility. All embarrassment, nerve, hesitation, and fear must be left at the door. If you think for a moment that your uncle or best friend would be annoyed or think poorly of you for asking for his/her help in a job hunt, you are dead wrong. Granted, you know your own situation and must use judgment in making those kinds of calls, but the fact is, most people are overjoyed to think that you would reach out to them in seeking their help and guidance. As for my inner ring, I start with good ole Dad. Chances are, your immediate relatives also have some experience under their belt. Their experience should bring connections. I also look toward siblings and close friends. My next ring out would naturally be a little larger and consist of individuals such as extended relatives, colleagues, and members of groups, clubs, or churches. I would also look to fraternity/sorority members, old mentors, and professors. The list could go on. It is up to you to identify your inner rings. The bottom line is that looking for a job must become who you are. There might as well be a sign on your forehead that reads “I’m looking for work, would you be willing to support me in my hunt?” It really is a hunt isn’t it. And like any hunt you don’t want to settle for a rabbit when you know you have what it takes to nab a buffalo. It should be obvious that the jobs you hunt for should be in alignment with your skill set.
In this day and age there are handfuls of social/professional networks both online and as organized clubs that lend themselves as a resource to the job hunter. Which ones should you utilize? All of them. However, build profiles in a way doesn’t scream, “I’m unemployed!” Most headhunters, recruiters, and hiring managers are looking for current professionals in a particular field. No doubt they will see that your last job ended some time ago, but branding yourself as having never left your industry goes a long way in the perception you give to others.
As I rap up this brief discussion I’d like to leave you with one more piece of advice—have fun! Make your hunt one that is challenging as well as exciting. Even in the application and resume phase, an energized personality rings through on paper and computer screens alike. Remember, you are not unemployed, you are a hunter—a hunter that may miss a target or two, but never hunts alone.
Guest Post By: Rock Tolman, Recruitment and People Development Manager. Feel free to reach out to him via Linkedin.