An MBA client told me this past week that she has sent out 200 resumes since August and received no callbacks for interviews. Believe it or not…this is a normal result in this kind of job market!
If she had done the same thing 20, or 15, or even 10 years ago, she would’ve received a good number of calls from internal and external recruiters because the economy was still hot and expanding, and there was strong demand from employers for skilled labor. Not anymore, not now, unless you’re in one of the few hot job categories.
Instead, this MBA client, as well as most other individuals, need to move from a passive job search to a pro-active job search. Some 80 percent of jobs are now found through networking. I explain this pro-active job search in detail in my free webinar ‘Secrets to a Successful Job Search.’
The principles outlined in my webinar are especially effective during the holiday season. Why? Because this is the time of year when goodwill towards all men and women is real, doors are open, and people want to chat. The timing for meaningful contacts related to job search and career advancement couldn’t be better.
Hiring managers and decision-makers attend office parties, social events and community celebrations. They take their hiring needs with them wherever they go. Problems, challenges, impact issues, pressure points continue to get in the way of managers leading their organizations to successful goals and objectives. They are always scouting for new talent, for people who can make their lives easier, and help them succeed.
Remember, this is the season for giving. So give people will give you time and attention. Listen to their stories. Politely ask questions that probe their concerns. Find out where you can help.
If you can, offer to help. People will appreciate and remember your generous offers to assist and support. This is how you build rapport, deepen relationships, foster trust—and generate job offers!
Productive networking is about building relationships not performing transactions. Leave a positive impression, strengthen ties, share ideas, give people a reason to remember you. Face time is quality time. Stay focused, be alert and don’t overindulge in food or beverages. Conduct yourself professionally at all times. Dress conservatively (unless the job sector rewards non-conformity!).
The ROI is simple–just one meaningful dialogue can create measurable value from every networking event.
* Avoid situations where you might be stressed, rushed or distracted from your networking mission.
* Seek out meaningful conversations that leave a strongly positive impression.
* Be ready to pick up insider-only knowledge.
* Try connecting those you know to each other.
I spoke recently with a client who received a generous job offer from a contact he had worked with on a committee related to a local branch of their professional association. He gave generously of his time and energy over the past two years, and his efforts did not escape notice by this hiring manager.
These holiday encounters could be your big break to chat with current or former employees at your target companies; exchange business cards with an industry leader; or, arrange a future meeting with someone difficult to reach. Brief interactions can be springboards to great relationships if you find ways to provide support and thereby sustain the connection.
If you want to optimize your networking efficiency, be prepared:
- Have specific job targets in mind
- Be ready to make clear, compelling points to attract attention.
- Have a set of probing questions that uncover job opportunities.
- Think about what you can give in terms of time and energy
- Listen actively so you are apt to pick up on a need you can address and keep up your end of the discussion.
In addition, have a ready supply of business cards that have your contact information as well as a few bullet points on the reverse depicting your interests, areas of expertise, or other memorable data. Make your card easy to read, and make sure your phone number is large. Ask others for their cards, and make a few notes on the back to remind you why the card may be important.
Remember, it’s the quality not the quantity of relationships developed, pursued or renewed. It’s not just what you know and who you know, but who knows what you know that produces new opportunities in today’s job market.
Happy holidays, happy giving and happy networking!