Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Build Out Your Network

You’ll quickly discover who your true friends are when you are looking for a job. The people that told you to give them a call if you are in a bind will bail. Some won’t even return your phone calls. I had one SVP that I worked with sing my praises to the COO the SVP of HR and others within the company. About three weeks later I moved departments and was swooped up in a political mess and was let go. I reached out to the SPV (twice) who just weeks earlier was saying how awesome I was. Silence. Best friend one minute, enemy the next (I had another VP who never said I was awesome not hesitate to be a reference for me. He returned my email in 10 minutes!).
Make a list of all the people you know. You should have an inner circle of a few close friends/associates. In the first 36 hours of your job search, you’ll want to have this list completed because you are going to start reaching out. Call them. Go to lunch or have a morning coffee (they are still employed, so get with them during a day they are in the office. There is a better chance they will follow-up once they get back to the office). When you talk to them, please don’t tell them that you lost your job and you are in desperate need of help! Remember, these people are now your potential employers, or at the very least they may put their neck on the line for you. You’ll need to put your guard up a little. Also, don’t spill the beans on dirty details of your past job. Swallow it, it’s in the past, move on. Again, there is a thin line between a friend and someone you are going to work with.
So what’s the purpose of reaching out to your network? The goal is to get the contact information of 2 more people! That’s right, not to get a job. You’re primary purpose for meeting with them is to continue to build your network. Ultimately you want to get your resume in the hands of a hiring manager of course. But to increase your chances, you’ll need to get more people in your network. Each time, you are moving closer to that job.  
As I said early, you’ll need to be careful with how you reach out to you network. Here is one way to do it, “I’m exploring new career opportunities and wanted to pick your brain a little about the industry you work in and your company.” If they need to know you lost a previous job, just add in that you were “laid-off” and continue the line. They won’t ask you for details. They aren’t going to care. If they dig for details, be careful in what you say. If they keep digging, move on to the next person in your network.
Now, the truth is you aren’t going to want to have coffee with everyone in your network. As you are building your list of jobs you are targeting, you can take your network and plug them into your job list. For example, if you are going to apply to a job at Bank of America. Who in Bank of America is in your network? Reach out to them. Tell them that you saw a job and that you want to know if they know anything about what the hiring manager is looking for. If you feel comfortable with this person, ask them to coffee to get more information about the company.
Most new jobs come from your network, not search engines!

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