Networking is NOT Job Search

Okay, I know this sounds strange, especially coming from me. Especially since this is a blog about how to find a job and I harp on networking all the time.  To be clear, networking is a fantastic job search technique – quite possibility the most important job search technique.  But networking is about more than job search. 

When you network, your goal is to meet people, learn more about them, and help them to learn more about you.  Then, you ask them to refer you to others so you can repeat that process, and learn more about others, and have them learn more about you. 

You should use networking to:

  • Learn about people – what they do and who they are (they are people – not just contacts),
  • Learn more about companies – what they do and what it’s like to work there,
  • Learn more about industries – what is booming and what is about to bust,
  • Learn more about communities – where is a good place to put down, or strengthen roots, and
  • Learn about volunteer opportunities – where you can use your skills and make the world a better place.

And yes while that is happening, you may also use networking to:

  • Learn about who is hiring for what jobs,
  • Learn about hiring managers and what they are looking for, and
  • Learn what jobs you do NOT want to apply for.

It’s a subtle difference, but if you make networking as simply a means to find a job, you might miss the bigger opportunity to truly build a network, rather than simply endure a string of meetings that may, or may not, lead you to the next job.  Invest in your network and it will pay dividends.  Make your networking be all about finding your next job and you may find yourself struggling.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


But I Already Know What I Want

I have a friend who is looking for a very specific job.  There are less than 100 of these jobs in the region he wants to work, and only a dozen of those are vacant at any given time.  Those jobs are always filled through formal search processes and when they are open, everybody knows. So his question is, why do I need to network?  I apply following their specific instructions and I then I wait for the search committee to call me. It would not be appropriate for me to directly contact a member of the search committee. What else is there to do?

I can think of three reasons you should continue networking.

  1. Networking into any of those organizations can help you learn more about their culture and issues. That information can help you prepare for an interview, or possibly help you conclude that you don’t want to work there.
  2. Networking lets many more people know about who you are and what you’re good at.  You may network with someone who already has a strong relationship with someone on the search committee. That networking contact can then talk to the search committee member about you and you have not created a conflict of interest.
  3. Finally, we’re back to not putting all your eggs into one basket. While clearly your goal is to land one of those dozen jobs, there is a reasonable chance that you won’t.  Building a network that covers other jobs, other industries, or other locations may produce an opportunity you were not considering, or it will give you a jump start for the next chapter, if the desired opportunities don’t work out.

The bottom line is that you should never stop networking and researching.  Finding your next job needs to be a full time job. If you find yourself getting bored, maybe you are not working hard enough.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


Do I Have to Network?

Simple answer.  No, not if you are not in any hurry to find a good job.  Feel free to search the internet and apply for every job that might fit you.  Practice telling yourself that it’s not your fault.  Blame in on the economy, or maybe on the corona virus.

Here’s the bottom line.  For whatever reason, you lost your job, and you need a new one. From my experience, the best way to find a new or better job is networking.  Networking means talking to people and getting to know them. Make sure they know about you, what you do, what you’re good at, how you’ve been successful before.  Then, asking them for names of people they know who you could also meet and tell them the same things.  Then, thank them for their help, and finally, be willing to do the same for others.

Networking requires you to be vulnerable.  It requires you to interact with people you don’t know.  Networking may be uncomfortable for some.  But it is the only way you’ll be exposed to the 75% of jobs that are never advertised.

Now, let’s get out there and knock on some doors.

If you need some help, read this. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/


I’m Back – Sorry I was late

Around 20 years ago I had an idea about a book that would help job seekers find their next job.  The company I was working for was about to be sold and as the HR Director, I knew that the acquiring company was only interested in the manufacturing components. All of the administrative staff, including me, would be RIFed.  I knew I would have some time on my hands, and maybe I could use that time to not only find my next job, but to help others find theirs. 

Fifteen years later, we published I’m Fired?!?!  Now, five years after that, I’m excited to announce the second edition.  A lot has changed over those 20 years. When I was writing the first draft, I accessed AOL via a dial-up connection.  About the only thing online was email and a few games.  In this edition, I take the entire outplacement process online. There is a new chapter about how to navigate job websites. There is another new chapter about using social media. There are also some new characters with new perspectives on the search process.

What hasn’t changed is the comprehensive approach to dealing with losing your job and finding another.  I try to help the reader deal with the personal side of getting fired.  As you follow along with Bob and his fellow job seekers to you can see how some people react and hopefully get some advice on how you might handle these problems.

The book follows Bob Smith as he gets RIFed, is provided an outplacement program and uses what he learns to find a new job.  While this book is no replacement for a formal outplacement program, I hope that by following Bob Smith’s story, you too can know that you are not alone. There are people along the way that will help you. And, if you treat finding a job as the most important job you’ve ever had, you will find one.

If you are job seeker, the book will help you. If you are an HR Professional, consider giving the book to those you have to let go.  Let’s get everybody back to work.                                                                                  

If you want advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available on Amazon. 


Can’t Someone Just Do This For Me?

A friend of mine recently left his job – Director Level – over ten years with the same organization – had not looked for a job since he graduated from college.  We were talking about the job search process and he looked at me and said “can’t I just hire someone to do this for me?”

There are people in the world who will offer to do just that.  There are recruiters (aka head hunters), search firms, employment agencies, placement firms, placement consultants, staffing agencies, and temporary placement firms.  All of these want to help you find your next job.  You just have to understand the risks.

The primary thing to keep in mind, is that virtually all of these are for-profit businesses that make money from either you or the organization that hires you.  Therefore, their goal may not always be to find you the best job for you, their goal is to fill the job so they get paid.

There are two basic types of head hunters – retained search firms and contingency search firms.  Retained firms are hired by the organization to find the best candidate for the organization.  They are typically paid a percentage of the new hire’s annual salary (usually 30-35%) plus expenses and they typically do good work.  Because of the expense, retained search firms usually are only hired for bigger jobs (executive level jobs).  The best ones know that their long-term success comes from placing candidates who will be successful, which will garner them additional business.

Contingency search firms are not “hired” by anyone.  They attempt to match candidates with jobs, but they are only paid if the organization hires someone they introduce to the organization.  For many of these firms, the key to their success is volume and they will send as many candidates to an organization as possible in hopes that one of them stick.  Contingency firms usually charge a fee of 20-25% of the new hire’s annual salary.

Placement firms, temporary firms, and contacting agencies are the other major players in the employment market.  They hire workers and place them in positions with their clients.  Depending on the nature of the work, those placements could be for several hours and up to several years.  The understanding could be that the employee will always work for the agency, or that they are temp-to-hire, meaning the organization can “test drive” the worker, and if they are successful, hire that person from the agency.  These firms may provide a full benefit package to the employees, or they may simply pay them.  For temporary placement and/or temp-to-hire, these firms will typically mark the employees’ salary up 50% to cover their cost and margins – so if they are paying the worker $10 per hour, they charge the company $15.

Depending on the type of job you are looking for, the urgency of your search, and the industry that you are in, any of these options might be right for you.  The higher you are in your organization, the more likely it is that you should introduce yourself to both retained, and contingency search firms so that they might be able to match you with one of their clients.  If you work in IT, contract-to-hire placements are becoming the normal method for find a job.

My primary message is for to understand that while any or all of these organizations might help you, their goal is not to help you, but to make money from that transaction.  Using an agency can be a great arrow for your quiver, but it should not be your only arrow.  Talk to recruiters and agencies and understand your options, but don’t wait for them to find you a job.  Instead, network, research, apply and conduct your own search, while they do theirs, and hopefully everything will come together quickly.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 2

Yesterday we talked about remembering 2015.  I hope you did that and celebrated how far you’ve come in life.

Okay, now spin your chair around 180° and let’s look into the future.  What does 2016 hold and how are we going to be prepared for it?  Inc.  Magazine asked people what they wanted to accomplish in 2016.  The number one answer was to enjoy life to the fullest (read the full list here).  Your resolution might be to find a job -not just any job – the right job.

If finding that new, better job is one of your resolutions, allow me to make a few suggestions to increase your likelihood of success.

Make a plan – Regardless of what your resolution is, there are three things you can do that will help you live it: 1) write it down, 2) include milestone dates and measures, and 3) make it public.  For your job search, set goals for how many people you are going to network with each week, how many emails and phone calls you will need to set up those networking meetings, how many new companies you will to research, etc.  Remember, looking for a job should be a full time job.  Make a plan that uses 8 hours a day – productively – two finding that best job then share that plan with a few key supporters – maybe even post it on Facebook.

Network – I can almost guarantee that you will not get that next BEST job, unless you network.  My suggestion is that each week you meet 5-10 people you have never met before, tell them your story, and ask for their help.  You will be amazed and what happens.

Be prepared – Every time you go to a meeting or an interview, be prepared.  Have your polished resume and target list with you.  Know as much as you can about who you will be talking to and the job/company you are interviewing for.  Be sure to have and practiced (aloud) your answers to common interview questions.

Be thankful – Say thank you – send thank-you notes – let people know how much you appreciate their time, their energy, their encouragement.  Even when you don’t think they were very helpful, thank them.

Be persistent – The economy is rebounding.  There are more jobs available, but I still tell people to plan for their search to take one month for every $10,000 in annual salary they hope to earn.  A $50k job might take 5 months to find.  Not any $50k job – but the right $50k job for you.  Plan the work, and work the plan.

If you are reading this blog thinking “but I don’t know how to do these things,” then you’ve come to the right place.  Search this blogs for tips on all of these subjects.  Or, buy the book (see below).  Or read someone else’s book or blog.  The help is there – the jobs are there – we just need to get you connected with one of them.

Speaking of resolutions – I resolve to help you find that next-best job in 2016.  Happy New Year!

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


New Years: Remembrances and Resolutions – Part 1

Looking back – wow!  Its hard to believe that 2015 is over.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on this year – the good and the bad.  For me, this was a good year professionally.  It was a good year educationally as I’ve finished my coursework and begun working on my PhD dissertation.  I can celebrate having a wonderful and supportive family.  That family celebrated the life of my father who passed away in May.  My respect for him and the impact he made on so many people’s lives continues to grow.  Editorially, I’m Fired came out in print and for the second consecutive year over 1,000 people visited the website.  If you are one of those people, thank you.  I can confidently say I am a fortunate man.

So, how about you?  If you’re reading this blog it is likely that you are a job seeker.  Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not, but there is more to your life than your job.  Use this opportunity to take it all in, and appreciate what you have, and make time to let others know that you appreciate what they mean to you.  If you are in job search, reflect back on what you know and what you’ve learned.  You will need a good sense of where you came from before you can clarify where you want to go.

Take time today, before the celebrations tonight, to look back on 2015.  Enjoy your successes, remember those who you lost, accept what you have, and know that you are not alone.  One of my favorite poems is Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and I encourage you to read it.  When I was in college, the Dean of Men had poster-sized version on the wall behind his desk and he would regularly recite it to young men who were struggling.  The final lines are:

“and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.  With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be careful.  Strive to be happy.”

Happy New Year!  Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about resolutions.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available in both print and eBook formats!  Click here for more details.


Welcome to … The Holiday Zone (redux)

This is an update to a previous post        

For those of you old enough to remember this – imagine some twinkling music in the background and Rod Serling’s voice saying …

“Job seeker, you’ve noticed something has changed – there are fewer openings – no one returns your calls – everyone seems distracted. It’s because you have entered —— the Holiday Zone.”

I don’t have any factual data to back up what I’m about out to tell you, but I do have 30 years of experience. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a frustrating time to be a job seeker. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it is reality.

From an organization’s perspective, this is not the time to try to fill a job. They know that people who have jobs, stop looking for new jobs during the holidays. They likely have spent their recruiting budget, and they wont’ be buying any new advertising or creating any new jobs until after the first of the year. Everything slows down until January.

The same is true for the employed job seeker. They will spend their weekends and evenings shopping, wrapping, and attending holiday parties, not looking for jobs.

So, if you are unemployed, what do you do? Just put your search on the shelf for a month? No, you keep working, but you work smart.

Use holiday parties as networking activities. Meet new people, tell them your story, and ask if you can connect after the first of the year to exchange information and contacts.

Take this time to do some more intensive corporate research. Look at the local news websites to find which companies are in the news for charitable giving or other social outreach; then add them to your Target list and make plans to contact them in January – and when you do, mention how you support their good works.

Volunteer to work for a community organization that helps families over the holidays and do some networking with other volunteers. If you do schedule a networking meeting, take a few holiday cookies as a thank you gift.

Spend some time on your resume, maybe it is time for a complete resume makeover; reorganize, rewrite, and refresh.

The point is, you can’t control the calendar, you can only control how you respond to it. You can curl up in a ball and wait for January, or you can spend your time productively. You won’t see as many postings, you won’t get as many interview, and people won’t be as available to network; but that does not mean you can’t keep looking and making yourself better so that come January, you are ready to knock their socks off.

Enjoy the season, recognize your blessings, and get ready for a fantastic 2016.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Now available as in both print and eBook formats! Click here for more details.


Attention Holiday Shoppers!

Just in time for your holiday shopping, I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another is now available in print! Whether your company calls it a layoff, a termination, or a reduction in force, the bottom line is that you are out of a job and need to find a new one. So how do you do that? There are no easy answers or quick fixes, but there are some straightforward techniques that in the end may mean you don’t just find a job, but you build a career.

Buy the book here for a great stocking suffer for the job seeker in your life. Or, if you prefer the ebook, buy the Nook version at Barnes & Noble (also available in other formats from Smashwords).  If you want advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out the I’m Fired?!? blog.

Happy Holidays!


Follow the Rules

Lately, I’ve been recruiting to fill a job in my department, and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when job seekers don’t follow instructions. Before they click the “apply” button on the website, applicants are advised that they must be prepared to upload a resume and a cover letter and that their cover letter should express their salary expectations.

My estimate is that less than ten percent of applicants meet all three of those simple requirements. Because the system requires two documents, about half load their resume twice – once as a cover letter and once a the resume. No more than one-in-ten mention salary.

Job seekers – when you fail to follow simple and explicit directions in the application process, it makes it extremely hard to convince the employer that you will follow simple and explicit directions as an employee.

You must read and follow all directions in the application process. Even if you think the directions are silly, if you think they ask for information they don’t need, or if you think answering the question will negatively affect your application, you must follow the rules. If you don’t, you run a strong risk that your application will not even be considered.

I’ve written before about the importance of a cover letter, and you should never submit a resume without a cover letter (unless they specifically instruct you NOT to submit a cover letter – which I’ve never heard of).  A cover letter is a necessary tool in framing your resume.

Now, you don’t just have to follow the rules. For example, if they don’t require a cover letter, you should still send one. They might tell you to apply via human resources – and you should – but you should also attempt to get your cover letter and resume directly to the hiring manager. You may need to explain why you can’t supply something they have requested, but at least that is better than simply ignoring their request.

So, simple lesson for today, follow the rules. And then find ways to expand the rules in your favor.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Available as an eBook and soon in print! Click here for more details.