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The Laid Off IT Guy! Networking

You can forget about reading the Sunday paper’s employment ads for most Information Technology jobs.  Your next job is going to come from networking.  Believe in the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Employment experts believe that 60-75% of all job openings are never advertised.  THAT is why we network.

Why aren’t all of the jobs posted?  It saves the hiring company money by not posting the ads or hiring recruiters. The benefit is the company brings in a new employee that is already trusted by your own trusted employee; not to mention, that posted jobs receive hundreds of resumes, many from unqualified people for the job requirements. That is overwhelming to the HR department. You want to network to find out about the jobs that aren’t listed to REDUCE the competition!

So, why does networking work?  People want to help!  It is human nature that when asked for help from a friend in need that we do whatever we can to assist. 

Here is an important fact about Networking – You are NOT asking for a job.  Your task in networking is only to ask for information that may lead to a job.  Chances are that the person you are talking to isn’t an employer that has a job for you, but they know people who do.

Social Networking

We are computer people.  Let’s use technology to help us with our search!

Some common sites and features:

Twitter – answers the question, “What are you doing now?”  Short – text messaging format

You can post items “Tweet” about what you are interested in.  You can also follow people.  For example, I follow some of my recruiters.  I am The Laid Off IT Guy, after all, still looking for my next career.  If you are employer looking for a Sr. IT Leader, post a Comment and I’ll follow up! (shameless plug)

Facebook – reconnect with friends, find common interests, share photos, etc.  Some use for job searching, too.

MySpace – seems to be more social than business focused.  MySpace is Facebook for the younger scene. Some businesses are adopting it.  There is some inappropriate content, as well, so watch out.

What not to post – pictures of you drinking, scantily clad, or brandishing weapons – basically anything that is unbecoming of you has no place on anything that a potential employer could see.  People have lost their jobs and even their degrees for misuse of these social sites.

LinkedIn – for professional networking (my preference)

Online resume with optional photo.  I think a picture adds desired input.  Employers want to know what you look like.  Make it a nice shot – in a suit if you have one.

Connections – people you know that have agreed to establish a relationship with each other.  In my first week as The Laid Off IT Guy, I doubled my Connections from 58 to over 140 people now.  Amazing the power on Networking!  Several of my friends have sent me a lead(s) via LinkedIn.

Recommendations - “ready to go” references.  I’ve got more than half a dozen on my Profile.  Potential employers can read references about me before even having to make any calls.  Those are solid endorsements!

Introductions – meet someone through someone you know.

Groups – affiliate with people with common interests.

Blogs – www.informit.com/blogs is where we are now.  There are many blog spots where you can talk about what you know that can lead to prospective jobs.

Old fashioned networking

Family, friends, neighbors -  Some of my best leads have come from my scout families.  I lead a group of Cub Scouts, and each of the parents of my boys have sent me at least one lead.  One terrific mom, named Karen, sent me a dozen!!

Vendors – companies you’ve purchased products from talk to people like you at other companies.  Have them listen for opportunities and think of you when they hear something.

Recruiters  - they know about unlisted jobs.

Informational interviews – finding out about their company and who they might know, even if they aren’t hiring.  I’ve done this and it works beautifully!

Always ask them if there is anyone they know that you should meet.  Ask if you can use his/her name when contacting the person.

Setup activities to initiate networking – lunch, dinner, formal or informal meeting, church group, social clubs, alumni, etc.

In Closing

Use Email to stay in touch.  Follow up on every lead and say “Thank You” often.  Try to do as much for the person helping you as they are doing for you.  Networking needs to be mutually beneficial.

Set goals for how many people per day/week you are going to network with.  I try to have at least two meaningful conversations each day.  Don’t just sit behind the computer and search the want ads.  Get out there and make it happen for YOU!

Let me hear from you.  Share your experiences about Networking, either through online sites or just across your backyard, that have lead you to your next job.

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