I heard this twist on a familiar phrase at a meeting recently. The person who repeated it didn’t know where she’d heard it, so I have no idea where it came from either. If you happen to know the source, please let me know. Meanwhile, I plan to assign it my own definition, which came to me almost immediately. Let me just start by saying I am so tired of hearing the same old assertion that getting a job is all about “who you know.”
Believe me, I’m not discounting the fact that each of you has a personal goldmine of contacts. If you are unemployed or employed but wanting to make a change in employment, you want to think carefully about your most valuable contacts. They could be a heartbeat away from the perfect opportunity, but the thing is, do they really know you? Do they know enough about you and what you are looking for that they would even recognize the perfect opportunity for you if it were to show up right in front of them tomorrow morning?
Job seekers are so eager to “network, network, network” that they too often dash right past
Step 1, Know Thyself (as much as possible), which is about making sure they know who they are; what they want; what their most important gifts, talents, skills, and abilities are; what their most valuable offer in the marketplace is; and making sure they have an authentic, clear story to tell contacts and prospective employers as to why they are a strong candidate for the job. (Step 1, the hardest part, sometimes takes several weeks with a career coach, just to put some perspective on the process. . .)
Step 2, The Resume, reflects the results of the work in Step 1. This step is about developing a professional resume that actually tells the story of where you’ve been, but more importantly, tells the story of where you are headed. I want my clients to love and be proud of their resumes so they will actually “own” them and be ready to bring them to life in an interview. But I’m getting ahead of myself and the process.
Step 3 is all about The Criteria. You don’t want to start searching or networking until you get clear about your criteria for the next step. The more thought you give to this, the better off you will be. How are you going to find the needle in the haystack if you don’t know what it looks like? Most job seekers come from a confused, fearful, weakened place. This is entirely understandable. It’s even biological. But in this state they incorrectly assume they will heighten their chances of finding something – anything – by applying for as many different jobs as possible, much higher or much lower than their experience would suggest. This is a great way to exhaust yourself and undermine your power, but it is not an effective strategy. Getting clear about your specific criteria, including role (and possibly, but not necessarily) title, salary, location, commute type and time, type and size of organization, industry or possible industries, et al., will help you find opportunities that are likely to be in your target area, not to mention the actual bull’s eye.
Step 4 is all about The Search. And part of The Search – one element – includes taking an inventory of your personal goldmine of contacts. These are not all the people you know. They are people you know who know you. They are people who have worked with you, for example. They know your gifts, talents, skills, and abilities. They “get” you. They have worked with you or for you.
You need to be current with these people. You can’t assume anything. You can email or call them, but you want to catch them up on what you’ve been doing and what exactly it is that you are looking for now. You want to make sure they know who you are now, what it is you have been doing, and a handful of your criteria so they will know how to think about you; otherwise, you might be sent on a lot of wild goose chases.
The Search includes making good, wise use of your contacts; the internet, of course; LinkedIn; networking; exploring websites of companies or organizations in which you are interested; and approaching companies or organizations that may want to know about you; but only AFTER you have become clear about who you are; what you want; what your gifts, talents, skills, and abilities are; what your most valuable offer in the marketplace is; and after you are able to tell your story effectively.
It isn’t just about “who you know”, it’s about who knows you!