Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Networking Not Working For Today's Job Seeker

Looking for an executive-level job? One that offers financial opportunity, challenge and satisfaction ... even during times of double digit unemployment?

Then forget all you’ve heard about networking in a job search ... it usually doesn't work.

An old and outdated approach

The conventional job hunting wisdom says that you should network incessantly. The more the better, with the hope that someone can point you towards a job. Keep smiling, dialing, texting and emailing and get your resume out to as many people as possible.

Well, how’s that been working for you? If you’re like most job seekers, the longer you search, the more precipitous is the drop in activity ... with each day bringing less activity and fewer responses.

You network more, but with less to show for it. Why? Because the process is flawed.

Why traditional networking doesn’t work

Most execs assume that networking is about meeting the greatest number of people possible and telling them you're looking for a job. Unfortunately, the usual result of that activity is that a lot of people know you’re out of work … and that's about it.

As executive job seekers eventually find out, it's not about how many people know you're looking... and it's not about people keeping an eye out for that particular job you want.

That rarely works.

First of all, people don't usually hear about specific positions that match your needs and secondly, after a week or so, with many other more pressing items on their plate, they simply push your concerns right off it.

If "give me your resume ... I'll keep an eye out for any openings" is the response you've been getting, then you already know how accurate that is.

Think like an investor

Often the best opportunities are not advertised or on the desks of executive recruiters.

We know that the truly golden opportunities are "company-centric." They're based on the unique needs, challenges and opportunities that are specific to a given company and arise long before someone converts them to a job description. It's these opportunities that comprise the "hidden job market" ... the optimum path for executives pursuing employment.

Hidden jobs always exist. However, it's up to you to uncover them and then make a solid business case for the company's investment in you.

So if you haven't been thinking along these lines, time to change your MO ... five simple steps:

1. Target 25 companies you'd like to work for

2. Research them thoroughly ... know as much as possible about each one

3. Identify their needs, challenges and opportunities

4. Determine how you would fit into their structure

5. Quantify and justify how you will improve their top and/or bottom line

Simply put, your challenge is to answer one question and one question only ... how can I help that company make or save money?

No matter the organization, if you can demonstrate how your skills, knowledge or prior accomplishments can produce a sizeable multiple of what you're willing to work for, they'll usually invest in you.

Making your network work

With your new MO intact, your network can now become a valuable resource ... three easy steps:

1. Select, from your list of contacts, those who would be most likely to have information about, connections and/or access to your 25 target companies

2. With laser-like focus, question your contacts specifically about these companies, everything from what they know about their operations to the names of people you could contact for more information

3. Keep at it until you've identified, contacted and arranged interviews with the decision makers

The key: Utilize networking as a vehicle for information and contacts, not a tool for job leads.

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