Feature: The Secret Weapon of Online Job Search-III
Networking has always been one of the most effective ways to find a new or better job, and the Internet does not change that rule. That’s not to say that you should ignore other online career advancement activities (e.g., checking the job postings at corporate career sites and commercial recruitment sites, conducting research and building relationships with recruiters). It is, instead, to point out that you are much more likely to achieve your employment objective if you devote some time and effort to networking online.
Internet networking, or e-networking, involves using Web-sites, online databases and e-mail conversations to find and connect with those who can advance your job search. As with its “real world” counterpart, however, e-networking is only effective if it is done with skill. For the past two columns, therefore, I have been exploring how best to do e-networking so that it actually helps you find that job of your dreams. My last two columns introduced the first three of the five skills required for successful online networking; this column will present the remaining two:
Contact Individuals in a Way That Encourages Them to Help You
If your networking online identifies a person who may be helpful to you in your job search, it’s critically important that you contact them properly. Why? Because you’re asking a lot of them. First, they must stop whatever they’re doing to listen to your request. Second, they must invest their own time and effort to provide whatever assistance they can. And third, because they usually don’t know you well (if at all), they are incurring some risk in connecting you-a stranger-with their friends and/or colleagues.
So, what’s the right way to make an approach? Treat it as a big deal-it is. In other words, don’t send out mass e-mails asking for assistance or interrupt the conversation in a chat room or discussion forum with a personal plea to one (or all) of its members asking for assistance. Instead, send a private, individual message to your contact that adheres to the following rules:
1. Be polite. Introduce yourself and briefly describe your situation (e.g., “My name is Jack Johnston; I’m a ceramics engineer in transition in the Tulsa area”).
2. Build connections. Indicate how you were able to contact them (e.g., “We’re both members of the discussion forum at the XYZ association site;” “Your colleague, Janet Jones, is also a friend of mine, and she suggested that I contact you”).
3. Stroke their ego. Briefly explain why you contacted them (e.g., “From your posts on the discussion forum, it seemed as if had some important insights about our profession;” “Janet said you were one of the real experts in ceramics engineering in this area”).
4. Be straight forward. Briefly describe the kind of assistance you need (e.g., “I was hoping we might briefly meet to discuss the employment environment in our field in this area;” “I’d like to meet with you briefly about where best to look for an appropriate opportunity in our field”).
5. Get a commitment. Ask if there’s a convenient time in the near future when you could meet with them or, at least, continue your conversation with them by telephone. Don’t propose a specific date and time, but indicate, instead, that you are available to meet with them, whenever their schedule permits, in the next week or so.
6. Be polite again. Close by thanking them, once more, for their time and courtesy in considering your request.
Focus Your Online Company Research So That It Helps Your Off-Line Networking
Most of us look at the job openings posted at corporate career sites and commercial employment Web-sites, find an opportunity we like, submit our resume, and think we’re done. That, however, is only half of the battle. In fact, it’s the next step that is most important. When you find a position in which you’re interested and for which you’re qualified, always apply after you submit your resume.
Here’s what I mean. Begin networking with friends and colleagues in the real world to find a contact inside the company where the position is located. Connect with them using the steps above; in step 4, ask them if they’d be willing to walk your resume into the HR Department. Why? Because their effort to help you apply for the job will give you at least three genuine advantages:
Here’s the bottom line: there’s no magic bullet to finding a great job, but e-networking comes close. Done well, it will expand your range of contacts and encourage them to help you gain a real and substantial advantage in the job market. Just as important, once you’ve landed that dream job and are happily on your way to career success, keep at your networking. Help others so that, should you need their help again in the future, they’ll be there ready and willing to do so.
Thanks for reading,
Section Two: Site News You Can Use
CareerJournal.com reported the results of a recent survey of HR professionals, conducted with the Society for Human Resource Management. It found that there are three elements of compensation that are negotiable with an employer; they are salary, relocation costs and work schedule. Unfortunately, the survey also found that there are three other elements where HR has little room for negotiation; they are retirement benefits, healthcare coverage and severance packages. What’s the key point? An astonishing 90% of HR professionals say that negotiating compensation is appropriate and potentially rewarding for job seekers … if you focus your efforts on the right things.
TheLadders.com launched as a career site for “the $100k+ set.” Job seekers get access to a newsletter with some employer ads for free; if you want to see all ads, get more detail about the ads or set up early delivery of the newsletter, you pay a $25 fee.
TrueCareers released the results of its latest survey of employees. The findings indicate that our individual financial situation is either holding steady or improving. Here’s the good news: 63% expect to get an income tax refund this year, and almost 60% got a raise during their last evaluation. On the other side of the ledger, however, 26% didn’t get the raise they expected, and the cost of gas continues to rise. What should you do? Visit such sites as Salary.com and those operated by your professional and trade associations (where salary survey results are often posted); know what you’re worth in the marketplace and then calmly discuss any projected raise (or lack thereof) with your supervisor during your performance appraisal.
Yahoo! HotJobs announced that it is searching for “The Leader of the Free World.” That’s right, the site is partnering with Showtime Networks to search for people who would be ideal candidates for the office on the new Showtime reality series American Candidate. To apply, you must be a U.S. resident and 18 years of age; other than that, there are no set qualifications to be “the Leader” … which may tell us something about the state of politics in this country. Anyway, if you want to apply, visit the HotJobs site. Oh, and the winner will receive $200,000 and the chance to address the country from a replica of the Oval office. Cool.
Section Three: Site Profiles
Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?
1. Which of the following sites would leave you burned if you were an experienced radiology technician looking for employment with a local hospital?
2. If you’re a benefits manager searching for a position with an HR Department in your local area, which of the following sites would fail to insure your success?
3. Which of the following sites could you call on to find a receptionist position with a local employer?
Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2004 Guides and Directories
Legal Career Center Network
A WEDDLE’s 2004 User’s Choice Award Winner
Post full time jobs: Yes
Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All
Distribution of jobs: National: USA
Number of jobs: 2,200
Salary levels of jobs: $51-75K/year, $76-100K/year
Offer a job agent: Yes
Resume database: Yes
How long are resumes stored: 180 days
Restrictions on who can post: Those in a certain industry
Other services for job seekers: Career/job search information, Confidentiality feature in resume database
1. RADsite.com, the site of a software solutions provider.
2. B-People.com, a site for the city of Maastricht, in the Netherlands.
3. None of them; they are not recruitment sites.