Most of us will know or have an understanding that when looking for a new job and new role, networking can be of huge value and importance. However, for many of us there maybe a difference in definition of what ‘networking’ really means.
I received a few emails on this recently which has spurred me onto thinking –hey I should really write something on this and job hunting online generally if it will help people with their job searches and especially if they are putting hours and hours of time and effort each day doing what is highly ineffective. So – here I will use examples from 2 people I have come across recently. One email from – let’s call her Sally (to save embarrassment) said:
‘About networking - it depends how you define "really networking"(see article: 5 Good Ways NOT to Network) I'm regularly sending out e-mails and adding people on LinkedIn. But this is often to very little avail, and I've never been on a course about "how to network effectively". My progress over the years has been in a kind of "trial-and-error way", which I've supplemented with the odd suggestions from friends, recruitment professionals, and university career advisers’
Unfortunately this does not seem to be hugely uncommon. He carries on after a few exchanges to say - ‘I was expecting you to say that I needed to be bolder in my communications with others, more persistent, less honest, and a lot more pushy (just like how a lot of head-hunters are with me, and the sales-people I've met are) - but it turns out I'm completely wrong!’. Right – so I can’t divulge everything in 1 blog but I can try to make a start – so here goes with some of the biggest online job hunting mistakes that I have been hearing about recently:
1. Sending out blanket emails to people you do not know
When people receive emails from those they do not know – it is ‘spam’. They do not know you and so why should they care – well they do not usually care about you or what you are after. If you are sending out masses of emails into the cyber abyss – people reading and receiving these can tell. It’s generic, impersonal and usually highly annoying to the reader. Why on earth should they help you – they do not know you – and you have not taken the time to get to know them! Imagine you are a top manager somewhere going about your day job… - then – you get hundreds and hundreds of emails from people asking for a job. So – unsurprisingly this approach is a big waste of time. Targeted emails/letters – which have been thought through and worked through – is a different story and probably best left for a separate blog.
2. Adding anyone you can find to your Linkedin
I receive several invitations from people who I do not know, to connect and ‘join their professional network’ on linkedin. Do I accept these invitations – nope! I usually send a message back asking how I can help. There is also a polite ‘Have we met!?’ note as well to hint at the fact that adding randoms is not a good idea! Getting a reply at all is very lucky. What will usually happen is:
They will hit the ‘I don’t know this user’ button, which means you will never be able to contact that person again. If it is done several times – linkedin will stop you from being able to openly contact people – until you start being ‘good’ and sensible again.
Read this article to learn how to use social networks and social media in your job search: How to use social media to job hunt
3. Sending your CV to anyone you can get your hands on
I did not know Sally yet the minute she got the chance to – she sent me her CV. So what am I supposed to do with it? Ok – so there might be a chance that I have a job or know someone but am I inclined to help if I’ve just had a random CV pushed in my face? No – so don’t do it. Make sure your cover letter sounds professional but also with a human touch, and you may want to add some business cards into the envelope for a personal and professional touch.
Here's some food for thought on CVs: Top 10 Features for your CV
4. Applying to all the ads you can find
The other day I was talking on the phone to Tom. He was down in the dumps and has been trying to many months to get a job. After asking what he’s been doing – he explains how he’s ‘you know, the usual – I sit for hours at a day going through jobsites and applying for all the roles I can find’. When asked if there’s something specific he’s after – the reply is a no. He also ‘sits by the phone waiting for the recruitment agencies to ring, but they don’t. They aren’t really taking any notice of me’. Sad but true.. Spending hours of your time applying for everything under the sun without any focus or way to distinguish yourself from the crowd – will get you no-where. It will make you tired and frustrated perhaps but the likelihood of getting any of those millions of jobs you applied for is low.
You may want to check out How to Get on the Radar of Recuiters
by the way.
5. Relying on recruitment agencies or headhunters
Following on from Tom’s comment on this – you cannot rely on the agencies of headhunters
to magic up a job for you. It does not work like that. They are sitting on literally hundreds of thousands of CVs at any one time. Their CV database is huge. You are a number to them and they will only contact you if you happen to fit one of their roles. Given there are thousands of candidates for them to choose from – you cannot leave this as your only or main route to finding a job.
There is a general theme to the techniques used above. They are all impersonal, mass and volume orientated, time consuming – and they just do not work! There is a great book ‘What Color is your parachute?’ which tells you that:
- Using the internet as a way to look for a job is at the very most 10% effective
- Mailing out resumes to employers at random is usually 7% effective
- Answering job ads you see in the press, trade journals etc are also around 7% to 24% effective at most
- Using search firms, recruitment agencies is 5-28% effective
So the way that does actually work is to do what they call a ‘Life changing job hunt’ where you look at what, where and how. What we specialize in is actually an extension of this idea where we look at: what your skills are, what makes you, what you can do. Then we look at where you want to use those skills – so the options available to you. Then finally it’s the how – and from our experience you get there most effectively via connections or what is more commonly referred to as networking. This method is around 90% effective.
Be smart about how you use your time. Get out there, talk to people, meet and get to know them properly. Be curious about them. Ask questions. Seth Godin has a cute note which sums up the need to being curious well in: Why ask why?
Nisa Chitakasem is the founder of Position Ignition
– a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. Nisa is passionate about helping individuals find the right career path for them whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career directions.
For free advice, guidance and information on careers visit the Position Ignition Career @PosIgnition
One of the decisions I made early on in online networking was to become an “open networker” on LinkedIn. For those of you who don’t use LinkedIn, becoming an open networker is where you join a group and are added to a list of people who are open to connecting up with people. Other networkers can use this list to make contact with you. Three years on after becoming an open networker I have thousands of connections. Now I kind of regret it.
I say “kind of” because there are advantages to being an open networker. One is that it expands your list of contacts by the bucket load. That means you are able to research thousands, if not millions of people in your broader network. This is great if you want to use LinkedIn to understand people, where they work and how they may help you.
The down side of being an open networker is that I am fair game. Now I receive hundreds of emails from people I don’t know. Many of them have nothing to do with my business. People have assumed that since I am an open networker that I want to hear about their bridge building business in California or a great deal on grapes in Penang. I’m in Sydney and if you’re reading this, you know what I do. It sounds bizarre, because it is bizarre. I am simply being spammed. While I received a few interesting emails among all of these, I’m sure many more good contacts have been lost in the masses.
For me, one of the few things to come out this deluge of emails, is a bit more insight on email impact and ethics. I try to understand how people communicate and how to improve my own communication. When I’ve read these emails I’ve realised how easy it is to all sound the same. If I open an email, it’s because it’s been a really clever or targeted email, and short and snappy, or the person sending it has “lucked on” a topic that has interested me.
With thousands of connections in my in box, I also find it hard to manage the masses. It’s a challenge to find people that I really care about and want to form deeper relationships with. (If anyone reading this has that secret, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it.)
Another thing that I didn’t think about when I opened myself up to contacts is how other people may view this when they look at my profile. Many head-hunters I have spoken to say that they look at the richness of your connections and who’s in your network. With so many contacts I am sure I look either really impressive, or really indiscriminate.
My main take out of doing all of this is that I had hesitation about becoming an open networker. But I ignored my gut instinct. At the time I didn’t have a good reason not to do it. I now know from working within online networking, Twitter and social media, that the community influences the way people use the forum. So with LinkedIn, many people have seen people hooking up and emailing each other, seeming indiscriminately and it becomes the “done thing.” It snowballs.
What I do know is that I’m not generally a person that works a room and hands out my business card to 25 people, even at a professional networking event. I prefer to chat to two or three people and get to know them. Open networking seems to be a bit like that spray can kind of approach. I’m not saying that’s wrong. I just don’t think that’s my natural style.
My main take out of all of this, is my networking style worked for me one way offline, so I should have approached it that way online. Perhaps that’s a good rule of thumb for anyone, really.
Now that you have an interview, there are certain things you will want to do in advance to prepare for it. This article will provide practical tips on how to prepare for a job interview. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so you'll want to do you best on preparing for your interview in advance.
Pick out what you are going to wear on your job interview.
What you wear on your interview is an absolutely crucial part of how to prepare for a job interview. After you choose your outfit, make sure it is cleaned and pressed and you have the appropriate accessories and shoes to go with it. It doesn't hurt to try the outfit on ahead of time, just to make sure everything fits and you look great. Then put your outfit aside for day of your interview and have it ready to go. Now that you have this crucial step out of the way, you can concentrate on the rest.
Practice greeting your interviewer.
You should always greet your interview with friendly smile and firm handshake. If you do this right, you will set off the right energy and the chances of the interview going well will increase. This is a small and simple step that you should always to do to prepare for your interview.
Study your resume and know everything on it.
Any work experience or skills you have listed on your resume are fair game to talk about during the interview. Your resume is all the interviewer has to go by in order to get to know you. They may pick things out from it and ask you to elaborate. Even though you may have a previous job listed that was many years ago, the interviewer may ask you to explain what you did at that job and your are responsible for providing an answer. This is one step you absolutely won't want to skip on how to prepare for a job interview.
Practice your answers to the most common interview questions.
If you don't know what these are, do your research and find out or see one of my other articles. You'll want to have your answers ready and practice them. You should always be able to answer "Tell me about yourself" and "Why do you think you would be great for this job?" The employer doesn't know, so it's up to you to sell it.
Don't completely memorize your answers so they come out rehearsed, but have a clear idea of what you are going to say. When you are asked, you want your answer to come out intelligently and natural. Be open to other questions as well and really know what you can offer to the company.
Research the company and the job position you are applying for.
Write down any questions you may have about either so you can ask during the interview. If there any requirement of the job that you are unsure of, you should definitely ask during the interview. It always looks nice when you go into an interview with intelligent questions. It shows you put effort in preparing for the interview. However, never ask questions just to ask questions. The interviewer will see right through that. Your questions should be genuine and relevant.
Find out the type of interview you will be going on.
There are several common types of interviews such as one on one, group, and behavioral. You shouldn't assume you will get a certain one. Don't be afraid to ask your recruiter what kind of interview will have if you don't know. The interview will be more beneficial to both parties if you are prepared.
Print out the directions to the interview and be on time.
Allow enough time to get there and anticipate traffic. It's ok to be up to 10 minutes early, but no more than that. Otherwise, the interviewer may not be ready for you. Bring the phone number of your interviewer just in case you get lost or are going to be late. If you are going to be late, call to let the interviewer know.
Follow these tips and you will successfully know how to prepare for a job interview. Interviewers can tell whether or not a candidate has prepared for it or not and they will appreciate it if you did.
In an economy that is being called the worst since the Great Depression, I have changed my job.
I felt like I woke up each day to put my life on hold while accepting a bribe to stare blankly at a computer or to do work at the whim of a supervisor. Holding back my passion and enthusiasm, I lasted a year and a half in my first post-college job, and six months at the second. Intuition told me that I wouldn't make it to my six-month anniversary in the another desk job, so I finally chose to follow the whispers of longing in my heart. I have become almost more familiar with the fear of change as well as the terror of having no idea what lies ahead than I am with a steady paycheck.
Speaking from experience, if you want to leave a job you hate I suggest you make a game plan and write it down.
Now throw the plan away.
In the short term it may not be possible to make a career change, and there are a number of ways that you can start enjoying yourself more at work while you plan for the inevitable job and/or career change. I highly recommend the blog post, "12 Kickass Ways To Love Your Job and Your Life"
, written by social entrepreneur, Arvind Devalia, which offers solutions and provides perspective to bring more joy to your current situation.
Or to at least make the misery not quite so bad.
For regardless of how much you read, plan and consult, happiness is not likely to align with your chronological, biological, professional, and societal agendas. It might not align with your fiscal agenda either, but by the time you are happy you may find the other agendas less pressing. There is overwhelming scientific and anecdotal evidence that fame and fortune contribute to happiness only to a point.
Your salary affords you your basic needs, and that last promotion bought you your dream house, but thanks to the Law of Diminishing Returns, your quality of life increases per dollar earned at a steadily decreasing rate. Eventually, even as you earn more and more money, your happiness stops increasing at all. You apply yourself more and become more disciplined; I just need to earn a little bit more to buy x and y, and THEN I'll be fulfilled, you say. But at this zero-happiness-increase point you still feel something is missing because the new purchases only fill the void momentarily.
As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. - Carl Jung
The truth is, something is missing. The billions and trillions of dollars in the worldwere unsuccessful in bringing satiety, even temporarily, to the enormous emptiness that lies inside you. It is okay to choose to be distracted from the emptiness for the rest of your life by shiny new gadgets surrounding us, for in the face of familiarity and knowing, daunting is the darkness and turmoil of not knowing what lies ahead and relying solely on the enormous space within you.
But I am here to tell you, do not fear the emptiness. This is were the first inklings of true success start to grow, for creation is only formed out of this rich, dark emptiness. The blog Zen Habits writes about The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People
by questioning known creatives about the habits that they consider important to their creativity.
The habit that stood out the most was the need for solitude. Creativity needs to have space to flourish where there is no threat of cell phones, traffic lights, or holiday sales to momentarily distract. Chock full of mental calculations and physical reactions, a logical plan keeps the mind in charge, but the unknown- having no plan at all- forces the mind to let go; emotions rise in a space where there is no logical analysis to quench them, where a passionate fire awaits to spark the genius.
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. - Carl Jung
In my last job, I experienced overwhelming feelings of frustration and betrayal; fear and anger grew as I felt the time for change grow nearer. It took me long months of staying indoors and avoiding the mirror before I learned to appreciate my anger instead of to suppress it. And then, armed with my passion but faced with an unknown future, I felt lost. I am still learning to embrace feeling blind and lost. In my efforts to overcome the feelings of failure and fear, I can see that I've been trying to force the creative Me out in the same manner that I would pop a zit.
, author and speaker, says about creativity, "Your relationship with yourself determines the quality of love and joy that shines in your work. Severity will cause creativity to flee; you must live in your joy for creativity to thrive- through compassion and self-care."Self-kindness and respect will do more good than the negative alternatives.
It is of utmost importance that the agenda for happiness be the highest priority instead of the lowest one. Eventually, I will stop crying and throwing my tantrums of hopelessness and rage, screaming at the unfairness of it all. Eventually I will tire and finally relax into the fear/anger/sadness, and then that too will pass. Anger is only an emotion; it is notbad or good. When unleashed in the spirit of compassion, the anger provides a fire for creation. It provides a spark in the darkness where fear and guilt have no place.
- Ultimately, fulfillment comes from creating, not from regurgitating and manipulating
- Creativity needs space to grow
- It needs passion to ignite
- It needs nurturing through compassion and self-care.
Dreams, intuition, imagination and creativity are the pathways to understanding the chaos and embracing it. Transcribed through Tom Kenyon
, the Hathors say that "following your deepest sense of joy will lead you to be in the places where you will most likely survive". Your passion will always light the way. It doesn't matter that you cannot see what lies ahead. Nurture yourself and you nurture your dreams.
Related: 6 Simple Steps to Be Happier at Work
Jill Yotz is a freelance writer and entrepreneur, based out of Seattle with a degree in Economics from the University of Washington. She focuses on how creativity and entrepreneurship work together to build networks and develop lasting and meaningful business ideas. Learn more about the intersections of creativity and entrepreneurship on her blog, @jillyotz.