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It is Not Always What You Know, But Who You Know

In this post I will both extoll the benefits of social networking as well as critique over-bureaucracy in large enterprises.

I once decided that it was time to move on from my current position to something proverbially bigger and better. Before I even posted my resume to Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, etc., I remembered that a former colleague of mine now worked as a systems engineer for a huge enterprise in my city of residence.

With no further delay, I 'pinged' my friend and within 10 minutes learned that yes indeed, his institute was in need of a second senior systems engineer. In point of fact, the position had not even been posted publicly yet.

Would I be interested? my friend asked. "Heck yes!" I replied.

One thing led to another: I was interviewed, hired, and had a blast working for that company.

Lesson #1: It is not always what you know, but who you know. While I'd like to think that I would have been granted an interview and perhaps even hired by that company based upon my skill set (and winning personality) alone, my heart of hearts tells me that what really gave me a 'leg up' for this job was the fact that I was personal friends with one of their staff.

The takeaway from this, friends, is to immerse yourselves in IT social networking in your community. Create and develop a profile at LinkedIn. Join as many IT-related user groups as possible. In short, network, network, network!

All was not rosy with my new position, however. For instance, I will never forget learning from my boss at the time that even though the company had obviously filled the senior systems engineer position, bureaucratic requirements at their shop mandated that they post the position publicly for a designated period of time and actually interview candidates.

Talk about being hung up with crossing t's and dotting i's!

It truly broke my heart to show up to work, otherwise happy as a clam, to see nervous, spit-shined job candidates sitting in the lobby, determinedly engaged in last-minute preparation for a job interview that was guaranteed to end in a summary rejection.

I don't have to tell you that this worshipful adherence to bureaucratic policy is unfair at best and cruel at worst.

Lesson #2: Keep in mind these hard truths concerning over-bureaucracy. You are more likely to have this sort of thing happen to you with a huge company than a small one. However, we need to avoid wearing the ol' Rose Colored Glasses and keep our hopes and expectations in check with regard to IT job employment prospects.

To my readers who are currently in the job market, I send you my best wishes and offer you any assistance that I am capable of providing.