I have been helping executives with job search and career management for 20 years, and what strikes me about career management is that, even though the technology changes, people don’t. With the explosion of monster job boards and million-member social networks that connect like-minded professionals, the thing that still helps professionals land quality jobs and advance their careers is meeting other people.
We built NETSHARE by working with companies and recruiters to help them find the best available talent. I am sure some members will recall the days when we called every member of the NETSHARE network to gather job leads for publication. As time went on, we received less “leads” from members and more “postings” from recruiters and companies but our focus continued to be on connecting the network of people together, rather than posting jobs.
I still see so many executive job seekers stuck using 20th century tactics. They are still following the job listings, writing cover letters, and reaching out to recruiters, begging for a chance. With the amount of qualified talent out there looking for a new opportunity, these old-style tactics just don’t work.
I received a note today from one of my NETSHARE contacts with a request from an in-house recruiter looking for a senior manager for a Fortune 1000 technology company. Apparently the recruiter had uncovered my contact’s profile using a keyword search and was reaching out to see if he knew anyone. Now this could turn into a direct job lead for my contact, or it could turn into a golden opportunity for someone else in his network.
This is the new trend. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t have to use job listings any longer, except when they need to conform to the rules of EEO compliance. They can search LinkedIn, eCademy, Spoke, Facebook, and dozens of other social networking sites looking for experts with the right credentials, and then asking those contacts for help with their current search. They don’t need to sift through a mountain of resumes. All they need to use is a few keywords that match their job criteria to narrow the field from an ever-growing universe of professionals who have a robust online brand. That’s why you need to be connected, so you can be found and get the referrals that will be of real value to you.
When it comes to job search in the 21st century, it is better to be sought after than to look for new opportunities. You need to connect with other professionals who are in the right place with the right resources to lend a hand in your search, either with another referral or some new ideas. That’s how you get ahead, through your contacts.
And it’s the quality of the contacts that really matter. You need to have a handful of networking resources you can count on for advice or a referral, rather than trying to mine the hundreds of casual acquaintances you have on Facebook. You could be a LION on LinkedIn with more than 500 connections, but unless you can associate a specific qualification, expertise, or need with each connection, then they are of little value. It all becomes a numbers game unless you understand how to work with your network of connections to help one another get ahead.