How did I get there from here: Part II

So I mentioned in Part the First that I think the resume is pretty much useless on its own for getting a job, and is really a secondary piece of collateral to support your claims.

What does get someone to the “confirmation of skills” phase? Networking. And so I bring to you:

Part the Second: Networking (schmooze-hound)

It’s only been in the last year that I finally realized what networking actually is, and what networking is at its core. Note: the objective of networking is NOT to get a job or make a sale. Everyone hates that person. Please don’t be that person.

Networking is just making friends and building relationships. And handily, it’s usually centered around some common factors, so that those relationships may be beneficial someday. After realizing that crucial piece of information – thankfully while still employed – I didn’t mind networking so much and engaged in it fairly regularly. Through networking, I’ve found peers to collaborate with, referrals to services I needed, information on organizations I didn’t even know existed, leads on potential jobs and most importantly, friends.

This does not come from showing up at a networking event when you need something – there is no room for greedy networking.

You would never walk up to a stranger on your block and say “Hello, isn’t it nice today? Would you mind giving me $300 so I can fix my lawnmower?” The stranger doesn’t give a damn about your lawnmower, and now probably thinks you’re crazy.

In the same way, walking up to a stranger at a networking event and saying “Hello, are you enjoying the wine? Can I have a job interview / tell you about my product?” makes you annoying, and crazy.

Remember how I said you have to get the person reading your resume interested in you? That first tactic is the quickest way to make them uninterested, put off and wanting to run far, far away.

Have a conversation. Make small talk (if Darren can do it, you can too). Heck, I managed to get an interview for a job I was highly unqualified for during a conversation in which I dumped an entire glass of red wine into my purse and onto my person, splashing the floor and a clothing display at DKNY in the process. That’s what they get for serving coloured drinks in their store I suppose.

The point is, just be a nice person. Be interested and interesting. Not sure how to do that? Attend a “how to network” session. I’ve been to at least half-a-dozen, and this particular one is far and away the most interesting and amusing I’ve found.

Then, once you’ve met some people and hopefully made some good impressions and perhaps a friendly acquaintance or two, go do it again. And again. And again. Aim to be useful. If you know the answer to a question they have, give it! If you know of someone doing something they need, introduce them to that person! Go out with no other motive but to be generous and meet some people.

And when you find yourself in the position of needing something from them, as I did when I needed a job, you will reap the rewards a THOUSAND-fold.

This is the part that always tweaks the tiny sensitive bits of my cold, black little heart. Looking for work and facing the rejections that come with submitting applications, seeing positions you’ve applied to re-posted without any acknowledgement from those companies (other than the auto-reply that your resume has been received) and the days spent staring bleakly out the window waiting for the phone to ring, and perhaps phoning your home from your cell and vice versa to make sure they actually work… it’s hard on a soul.

So I am indescribably grateful to every single person who was kind enough to pass on job postings, offer resume feedback, make introductions to others who were either looking for staff, or might just know someone who is, sit down and talk with me about the current state of the industry and the job market, or just offer kind words when I needed them most. I want to say thank you all from the bottom of my heart – though my heart doesn’t seem deep enough… Perhaps thank you from my butt, which is so much bigger than my heart and obviously a very special thing, since it’s pretty fantastic.

Seriously though, that whole “80% of the job market isn’t advertised” schtick is crap. It is advertised. It’s just that those doing the advertising are still reading resumes from people they know or have been introduced to, and not spending nearly as much time on blind applications.

If you’re looking for work now, it’s not too late to get into the networking thing. I certainly joined a couple new groups during my unemployment. But stick to them. Don’t go networking looking for a job, find one then never go back. Go out with the intention of meeting more people like yourself. Go out with the intention of being interesting and being generous to your peers. Stick with it, and you’ll like it, I promise!

And while networking did eventually result in a job offer for me (which I didn’t accept), that’s the very least of what I gained from it.

But I’m not going to tell you where I found my job just yet. In Part Three I’m going to digress, and go on a bit of a tirade about HR and Recruiters.

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4 thoughts on “How did I get there from here: Part II

  1. gillian

    I think the reason why and how networking can go wrong is because we’re usually told (by parents, teachers, mentors, friends) to network in order to find a job. So then we go to some event and talk to people who aren’t hiring in our field and we feel like we’ve wasted our time; or we do talk to people who are hiring but we feel like we have to sell ourselves in some way, like it’s an interview to get another interview. I ended up going to a bunch of networking events and then leaving them feeling I’d failed because I hadn’t “promoted” myself that much.

    What’s funny is that the “networking” I’ve done through friends of friends, and the blogging community, has been far more beneficial to me (and my wallet and career) than any of the specific networking events (that are actually called networking events in their advertising). I wonder if the people who were nagging me to network a few years back never had to do it themselves, because as far as I’ve experienced (and as you have) it’s not like they tell you, and thank God for that.

  2. peechie Post author

    Yah, other than a few “how to network” events, I still find anything that’s advertised as something for the sole purpose of “networking” to be on a pain level somewhere between bikini wax and being punched in the face. I’d rather have a bikini wax than network, though if it came down to it, I’d rather network than be punched in the face.

    Like you, I’ve had much more luck (and saved a ton of cash) going to events that are built more around like-minded people sharing ideas and resources. It also seems to set the tone for a much more friendly and generous atmosphere from the get-go.

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