Network Your Way to Job Interviews and Offers

To some job seekers, “networking” is almost a dirty word–something they want to avoid like the plague. This isn’t a new thought; we’ve been around this track a few times before. However, in the unpredictable times we live in now, seemingly old methods can become new again, at least in terms of their importance to a successful job search.

Networking: Not Just a Numbers Game

I’ve seen various statistics and pieces of advice that suggest, for instance, that one of the steps you need to take to have successful participation in a networking event is to determine how many people you need or want to meet. If you hustle, you could conceivably meet quite a few people at such an event; but quantity alone won’t win you any prizes in the job search challenge.

To put it another way, you probably don’t want to paper your walls with the business cards you collect at a networking event. The people you meet and the business cards they share with you must have a stronger potential value than the quantity you rack up. By the same token, if your expanded LinkedIn network now numbers in the millions (or even hundreds of thousands), those that are of the greatest probable value to your job search and career success would only represent a miniscule portion of that total.

Networking Skills and Jobs

An article titled “No Networking Skills, No Job,” by Brian O’Connell makes some points well worth considering. To start with, he says that “connecting the dots between trusted contacts and future job opportunities is a big deal for job hunters. Failing that could be a real deal-breaker for career professionals looking for a landing spot….”

O’Connell goes on to quote a 2011 study by Right Management that gives the following statistics: “41% of all job applicants found new positions through networking, and only 2% through a job advertisement, either online or offline.” In addition, he references a 2012 report from ABC News that states “80% of all jobs are found through networking and networking events.”

Networking is Not a Quick Fix

Important as it is to your job search, networking will rarely, if ever, bring you an amazingly wonderful and rapid payoff. As with other job search tools (such as working with recruiters), networking usually only pays off over a longer term and often with incremental results that might not seem wildly impressive at first glance but can produce substantial benefits in the end.

Among other things, that means the sooner you begin a well-thought-out networking plan and the more consistently you work on that plan, the more likely you are to gain the outcome you’re seeking–a new/better job, a more fulfilling career, and so on.

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Job Search–Pay for Higher Ranking?

I’ve been a fan of LinkedIn as a job search tool for years, although occasionally they do something I’m less than wild about. However, the latest wrinkle–reported in a recent “Ask the Headhunter” column–struck me as a really sour note. In case you might run up against this situation, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing my thoughts about this, as well as brief references from Nick Corcodillos’ pithy column.

LinkedIn’s Paid Placement Offer–What’s It Worth?

Before I get into the LinkedIn bit, let me throw out an analogy that indicates to me the lack of value in LI’s new offer. I like flying Southwest Airlines for a number of reasons. However, I never take advantage of their early check-in offer (which, the last I looked, only cost $10 or $15). The reason is two-fold: (1) It doesn’t necessarily move me up in the line by much, so it’s not saving much in time. (2) Although paying the fee might place me nearer to the end of the A group instead of the first part of the B group, the people who board ahead of me don’t all choose to sit near the front of the plane, so I usually still have ample choices to pick from without paying the fee. I’d rather spend the money on something more rewarding.

So what is LinkedIn’s new paid-placement offer, and what’s it worth to you?

One of Corcodillos’ readers wrote in that he had started to apply for one of the jobs listed in an email he had received from LinkedIn. When he clicked the link, a pop-up ad appeared. As he put it: “For $29.95 per month, LinkedIn has offered to sell me an ‘upgrade’ that will put me at the top of the results this employer will see when it searches the LinkedIn database for job applicants.”

$29.95 doesn’t seem like a fortune–unless maybe you took advantage of the offer for every job you wanted to apply for via LinkedIn. However, there’s a darker side to this, as Corcodillos notes. Remember, first of all, that LinkedIn charges employers to post their job ads. Now they want to charge you for bumping you up in the search rankings. When Corcodillos questioned LinkedIn about this, the rep told him that employers have the option to turn the setting off.

As Corcodillos put it: “So I buy top positioning in recruiting results for $29.95 per month, and the employer has the option to render my payment a total waste. The only winner is LinkedIn….”

Alternatives to LinkedIn’s Paid Placement Offer

What do you do if the situation described above turns you off but you still want to get the word out to employers you’re interested in?

Start by making sure your marketing materials (resume, cover letter and, yes, your LinkedIn profile) are in top shape before you submit your information to any employer. Also, don’t rely too heavily (if at all) on the limited selection of jobs provided in a LinkedIn email. Conduct a proactive, diligent search for opportunities that currently exist or are likely to come up in the not-too-distant future; then prepare yourself to pursue those. Network actively and intelligently within your extended LinkedIn contact network to generate interest and gather information that will give your job search a boost and won’t cost you $29.95 to do so.


Stupid Recruiting: Are You a “Victim”?

Nick Corcadillos, of Ask the Headhunter, offers advice and opinions that are sometimes controversial, but it appears that when people follow his recommendations, they experience a high level of success. One of his most recent articles was titled “Employer Fined for Stupid Recruiting.” It had to do with a company in New Jersey that was fined under a new state law for placing a service manager ad that said, “’Must be currently employed’ because the company wanted someone ‘at the top of their game and not people who have been unemployed for 18 months.’” Corcadillos also noted that the company’s CEO had spent three years searching through resumes to try to fill the position, which means that all that time they didn’t have someone doing the job. Crazy, right?

I’ve heard from a few resume writing clients about ads stipulating that job applicants must be currently employed, and it struck me as not only short-sighted but also discriminatory. If you experience this, do you have any options? Apparently, it’s not yet against the law in any state except New Jersey, so your legal options are probably non-existent unless the company has actually violated a law that is on the books. You might not even want to work for a company that has that kind of “stupid” employment policy, but if you do, you probably need to adopt a more creative approach than just responding to their job posting by submitting your resume. In other words, find a way to get in touch with an influencer inside the company, preferably the hiring manager or someone who has a connection to him/her.

You are not less valuable if you’re currently unemployed. The trick is to demonstrate that to potential employers and generate enough interest to get them to call you for a possible job interview.