Feature: Network Online Every Day
This is the third in a four-part series that describes the new Darwinian world of job volatility and three of the key skills required for survival in this difficult employment environment. To read the first two parts, click on the Newsletter archive at WEDDLE’s and look for the issues dated September 1, 2003 and September 15, 2003.
The job market is a mess. Employment security is at an all time low. It’s a tough time to be thinking about a new or better job. And yet, many of us-active job seekers and career activists alike-are doing just that. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and CareerJournal.com from The Wall Street Journal, 83% of respondents said they are likely to look for a new employer as soon as the economy improves.
And there’s the rub. Whether you’re looking right now or intend to in the future, the time it will take to find that new job is increasing, sometimes to as much as double what it took just two years ago. So, what should you do?
Career counselors agree that the best strategy for finding a job is networking. It is the most effective way to tap into the “hidden market” of great opportunities that normally get filled by someone who knows someone else who meets a person who would be just perfect for the position. Networking can’t do it alone-it should be integrated into a multi-dimensional strategy of checking recruitment ads, research and other time-tested techniques-but it can give you an edge in finding some of the best openings that are available.
The only downside to networking is that it’s time consuming and often inconvenient. You have to travel to an office or a meeting place somewhere to connect with potential contacts and then you have to invest the time to get to know them one-on-one. In essence, the return on your networking is limited because you only have so many hours in the day.
Now, however, you can expand your networking and, as a consequence, your access to the hidden job market. How? By using the Internet to do electronic networking every day … not to the exclusion of traditional face-to-face networking, but in addition to it. Here’s how it works:
First, electronic networking occurs via e-mail. You meet and interact with others (your potential contacts) via online discussions at forums and chats. Where can you find these virtual meeting places? Try the sites operated by your professional association, trade organization and college or university alumni group. For a good listing of association and trade group sites, see the free Association Directory at WEDDLE’s; for a good listing of college and university sites, see the free University Directory at Google.com.
Second, the Golden Rule of Networking applies as much online as it does in the real world. Networking works because it’s based on people helping each other out. So, the Golden Rule is simple but very important: “You have to give as good as you get.” Make sure that you share your knowledge and experience with those whom you hope will help you with theirs.
Third, electronic networking is a contact sport. Traditional networking is all about “who you know.” Electronic networking, on the other hand, is an exercise in “who knows you.” The goal is to increase the number of people who know you and have benefited from that interaction. That virtual circle of contacts, in turn, may just be able to connect you with your next dream job.
Fourth, networking is netWORK, not netRELAX. In other words, the key to success is to network regularly so that the other participants in the chat or forum become familiar with you. Devote a half hour every day (from the comfort of your home computer) to contributing to the discussions you join. That investment is the best way to ensure your contacts will be willing to give you the help you need, when you ask for it.
Fifth, pay attention to the culture of the group. Each forum and chat has its own culture which governs such issues as how disagreements are handled, the kind of language that is acceptable and other norms of behavior. To make sure that you don’t inadvertently violate these unwritten rules, spend some time observing the chat or forum before you begin participating. Then, start slowly and gradually increase the pace of your involvement so that the others have a chance to get used to you and your point of view.
There is no one sure thing in career management and job search, particularly in today’s Darwinian world of job volatility. Over the years, however, networking has consistently yielded the best return (in terms of the quality of jobs identified) from your investment of time and effort. Thanks to the Internet and the technique of electronic networking, you can enhance its benefit even more and, in the process, ensure that you are in charge of any change in your employment situation … rather than its victim.
NOTE: I hope you’re enjoying my newsletter and finding it useful as you manage your career and seek out rewarding and meaningful employment opportunities. If you think the information and techniques I provide might be helpful to your spouse or colleagues, friends or neighbors, please tell them about the WEDDLE’s newsletter and encourage them to sign up. I’d appreciate it, and they will too.
Section Two: Site News
CareerBuilder.com reported the results of a recent survey about employee attitudes toward the work they do. An astonishing 75% of respondents said they were not working in their “dream job,” and most were afraid to move because of the dismal job market. They were dissatisfied with stress (55%), pay (53%), and opportunities for advancement (45%). Worse, 66% continue to worry about the possibility of being laid off. There’s an expression in farming that warns against “eating your seed corn.” Why? Because that’s the resource you will need to grow and prosper in the next season. Employers would do well to heed that advice. A growing number of workers are simply biding their time until the economy improves, and then, the great exodus out the door will begin … to better jobs and to employers that know they must nurture their employees, not consume them.
CareerWomen.com released a survey which found that 62% of women now have a formal or informal mentor in the workplace. Of these mentors, 64% were male and 36% were female. As with Venus and Mars, however, the support they provide is very different. Male mentors help women by providing general business training, leadership opportunities, coaching feedback and advice on networking and career advancement. Women mentors help other women by providing informal fellowship, guidance within the corporation, motivation, encouragement, and strategies for career success, work/life balance, job sharing, maternity leave and counteracting gender bias. All of which is to say that, as with the solar system, it’s best to have both. In other words, women should seek not one, but two mentors … one from Mars and the other from Venus.
Eliyon Technologies has launched a free career networking site to help job seekers reconnect with past co-workers. All you have to do is enter the names of the companies where you’ve previously worked, and Eliyon will provide profiles of everyone in its database who has worked for that company. According to the company, these profiles are “chock full of useful data, including where past colleagues are currently working, contact information, descriptions of employers, and more.”
ResumeDoctor.com recently examined over 150,000 resumes and found that 27% lacked an e-mail address. According to recruiters cited by the company, job seekers who do not provide an e-mail address in their contact information slow down the recruiting process, and that hurt their prospects for selection. Of course, the e-mail address must be private (never use your work e-mail address) and should be one that you can check frequently. As one recruiter put it, “I cannot tell you how many times I have sent out questionnaires over email only to get them back a week later after the position has been filled.”
Right Management Consultants released a study showing that the time required to find a new job is lengthening. Hardest hit are those at the highest salary levels. Senior executives, department heads and senior vice presidents now need eight months to find a new position, up from three-and-a-half months just two years ago. Those in the lower and middle management ranks now take 5.5 months to find a new job compared with 3.3 months in 2001. When asked what could be done to speed things up, Right urged job seekers to rely on networking. That’s good advice, but only if you network online as well as off (see the Feature column above).
Section Three: Site Profiles
Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?
If you’re a comedian looking to land a gig at a Chicago nightspot, which of the following sites would earn a bad review?
If you’re a social therapist looking for a position with an assisted living facility, which of the following sites would you not care for?
If you’re a secretary seeking office work in London, England, which of the following sites would do absolutely nothing for you?
Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2003 Guides and Directories
Post full time jobs: Yes
Post part time/consulting jobs: Yes-Part time, Contract
Distribution of jobs: National: USA
Number of jobs: 2,257
Salary levels of jobs: $151-200K/yr, $201+/year
Offer a job agent: Yes
Resume database: Yes
How long are resumes stored: Indefinitely
Restrictions on who can post: Registered on site, Hispanic professionals only
Other services for job seekers: Career/job search information, Links to off-site resources, Confidentiality feature: yes-not specified
Answers to Site Insite: