You’ve no doubt heard or read that networking is the best way to get a job. Many self-described job hunting experts preach that the best jobs are never advertised, and that networking is how to get one of them. The people who promote networking rarely explain exactly how exactly you’re supposed to proceed to actually land one of those dream jobs via networking. It’s just assumed that everyone knows.
In job hunting, you should certainly give yourself every advantage, and that includes making appropriate use of people that you know who might be able to help you in your job search. Let’s examine some of the realities of networking.
Suppose you are trying to find a job in enterprise software sales. Because you know someone who works in that business, you contact them, explain your goal, and ask if they know of any suitable openings at their company. They tell you that they don’t know of any openings in their company, but they’ve heard that a competitor recently fired a sales rep. They also know who the sales manager is and that they will contact a friend at the company and ask her to personally give your resume to the sales manager.
You thank your friend for his help and breathe a sigh of relief. Now comes the fun part.
You polish your resume and it does indeed get to the person who works there. She personally delivers it to the sales manager. So far so good.
The sales manager takes a look at your resume, then, in accordance with standard company policy, funnels it to the loving hands of Ms. Buffer in HR for her to screen.
Ms. Buffer uses resumes the way screeners do at most companies: to look for reasons to screen you out. The first thing she looks at is your current job title, company, and industry. If you are not currently employed in a similar job at one of their major competitors, that itself may be all she needs to know in order to justify eliminating you from further consideration.
Let’s say that you are currently employed at a competitor. Don’t worry, there are plenty more knock-out factors that can be used against you, such as age, education, number of and kind of jobs you’ve had, size of companies where you worked, length of time you’ve been in the enterprise software industry, in sales, etc. There’s a much greater chance that you’ll be screened out by HR than that Ms. Buffer will phone you for an initial interview — aka a second opportunity to screen you out.
The bottom line is that your contact was helpful, but it didn’t result in an interview with someone that can hire you.
Networking is a good tool, but it’s not a panacea for job hunters.
Tom Kellum is a job hunting consultant, helping people's dreams come true since 1987. He specializes in providing a personal job-landing service based on proven marketing strategies and methods. For more information, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.careerkeysman.com
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