Bill Clinton set a good example. For job networkers, that is. He was not a professional resume writer, nor a career counselor, but he acted as if he had consulted with one.
In 1968, when President Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, he would attend the occasional party. Whenever he met someone new, Clinton took notes in a little black book. Just as a professional resume writer or a career counselor would advise, Clinton wrote down the names of people he met, always including details about person that he could refer to later. Clinton said, "I'm going into politics and plan to run for governor of Arkansas, and I'm keeping track of everyone I meet." Clinton's success in life has been due, in no small way, to his ability to network well.
We can all learn from this example. In the coming months we'll see if his wife can benefit from his example. Sure, if you are looking for a new job, you'll need a resume. You'll also need to prepare for job interviews.
But just as crucial is social networking. Spend your time searching for jobs on websites and in newspapers and you miss 70 percent of available opportunities. Most jobs are available to networkers if you uncover them. Why? Studies show repeatedly that it is because people do the hiring and people are less comfortable with strangers. Get an introduction to a company and you will start out the job search process with a greater comfort level than you could by entering the process as a total stranger.
Networking also informs you of jobs before thousands of others learn about them. Networking, then, is simply the best way to find a job. Even a professional resume writer knows that it is more important than the resume itself.
Logically, then, it's worth taking the time to learn how to network and how to take advantage of your networking. From that first phone call to having a cup of coffee with friends to brainstorming about the direction of your career to emailing former colleagues you haven't kept in touch with, there are many networking approaches that can accelerate your job search. "It's the old-boy network," used to be an excuse, sometimes a reasonable one, for not getting the job.
Today, great job-hunting means joining the network. How do you network effectively? Don't just tell yourself that you'll do a better job of keeping in touch with friends, former colleagues, school alumni, and former teammates or that you will be more disciplined about handing out your business card at gatherings. No. It won't work. To advance your job search, you need to actively cultivate and expand the circle of people you regularly keep in touch with. That means a plan.
Formulate a plan that is rigorous, structured, and realistic. Write it down and follow it. The words on the page will give you better direction than the vague ideas in your head. Develop a calendar. You likely have acquaintances who can lead you to professional contacts and interviews, or just other people to help identify more contacts.
Keep track of these individuals using a written routine and calendar. Include names, phone numbers, email addresses, and-critically-descriptions of how you plan to keep in touch. Create a schedule to reach out regularly to each person.
You may be comfortable calling some friends several times a week, while others you might contact weekly by phone or email or even less often. Be consistent. Note ideas afterward.
After each phone call, jot down any notions and prospects generated during the call. Networking won't get you elected president but it can surely help you get a better job. Be sure to write down your contacts. Organize a database. You'll be glad you did. It will be a lynchpin in your job search.
Even more important than anything the professional resume writer or career counselor may do for you.
Paul Freiberger is President of Shimmering Resumes, a resume writing and career counseling service based in San Mateo, California. His website can be found at http://www.shimmeringresumes.com