The Best Piece of Job Search Advice - Ever - for IT Professionals and Others
One important aspect of searching for a new job (or a first job, for those just entering the work force) is what I call "human networking." This means talking to friends, family, schoolmates, colleagues, former managers and anybody else you can think of to get the word out about your job search and help you get yourself situated.
Marc Cenedella, ace recruiter from premium job placement outfit TheLadders, points out that how you make your request of these vital personal and professional contacts is critically important. Do it the right way, and you can make the absolute most of your human networking efforts. Perhaps more to the point, you can do it without putting anybody you talk to on the spot, or making them feel uncomfortable by asking for help they may be unable to provide.
I've been a fan of Mr. Cenedella for years, ever since I stumbled across his excellent career development and job search advice offerings, which come quite conveniently in the form of a regular newsletter. You can read this content online through the link provided, and you can also sign up on the same web page for direct delivery of the newsletter (look at the right column for a heading that reads "Join TheLadders Now").
Not only does Mr. Cenedella provide regular tips and information for job searches; career planning and advancement; personal development; and more, but he also elicits input from other industry experts and pundits. These contributors often have interesting and educational stories to share, and provide illumation both about Mr. Cenedella's strategies, and tips of their own devising.
To return to the matter at hand: I've seen this bit of advice from Mr. Cenedella before in somewhat different form, but each time I come across it I am struck by how simple and powerful it is. The concept behind the advice comes from sales training, where the notion of "Getting to Yes" is the key to establishing rapport and creating a positive relationship with current and prospective clients. In this context, you might equally view the advice as a form of "Avoiding the No," because — and here's the meat of it — Mr. Cenedella urges job seekers not to ask members of their networks whether they know about job openings that the seeker could potentially fill.
Instead, he instructs his readers to share information with their network contacts, and mention that they're looking for a job, as well as what kinds of positions they might be qualified to occupy, and what kinds of things they are definitely not interested in pursuing. The job seeker then concludes with a request for a reference from the network contact, when the seeker eventually finds an opening and progresses to an actual interview process.
The psychology of this request is sound, and depends on asking for something to which anyone can respond in the affirmative. Rather than putting network members in the situation of being unable to help, or at least unaware of job openings that the requester could fill, this approach creates a situation where 99 percent of respondents can easily say "yes." Not only that, but they can, without too much trouble, actually make themselves available should a reference request eventually be forthcoming
Cenedella also points out that this approach makes request recipients feel more positively disposed to help the requester. Another key point is that many people approached in this manner are more inclined to initiate contact down the road, should they later come across a job opportunity for which you might be suited. (This also explains why he recommends that requesters tell their network members what they're looking for in terms of employment).
This is such a wonderful piece of advice because it helps to prevent a potentially sticky situation from occurring, and increases the odds that network members can help a requester find a job. In a nutshell, that's what makes this simple set of instructions the best piece of job search advice I've ever come across. Cenedella's most recent ruminations on this subject are entitled I Hadn't Realized I Was Doing It Wrong Until They Told Me and are well worth reading in full. Enjoy!