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The Golden Rules of Job Search (and Networking)

As we head into the last part of 2013, many of you will start to consider making a job change in the New Year. I feel pretty confident in stating that not only because of my experience in this area, but also by the amount of LinkedIn connection requests I have been receiving over the past month! This whole job search and networking game is a tricky one for sure; having said that, there are some (basic) Golden Rules that candidates looking for work should be aware of. If you maintain awareness and follow these Golden Rules, you will greatly enhance your prospects of finding work.

Job searchRule #1: Don’t just begin your networking when you decide you want to change jobs or if you lose your job. You have to think of networking as an investment. You need to start depositing a bi-weekly or monthly amount into your networking “bank” in order to make it work for you. You can’t operate in your own silo/cone of silence for years and then if you suddenly lose your job or decide you want to move on, put up an “I’m available sign” and expect others to shower you with job offers! Seriously, there is nothing more obvious/awkward than when you don’t hear from someone in your “network” for years, and then suddenly you are getting a LinkedIn request from them and they are sending you their resume for “consideration.” You need to invest time in your network – whether in person or online. Participate in LinkedIn groups and email your contacts from time to time to check in. Better yet, phone them from time to time and see how they are doing. Then, when you need your network, they will be there for you. To put this in greater context, a former colleague of mine, Simon Parkin, from The Talent Company, wrote a great article on networking last year a highly recommend it – it is well worth a read.

Rule #2 – Always keep your resume up to date. Your resume should be a living, breathing organism. You should make sure to update it around 3-4 times a year (minimum) depending on what you do for a living and how active your job search is. You never know when someone is going to ask you to send them a copy of your resume (and yes, people still want your resume) so you better make sure you have one updated and ready to go. You don’t want to miss out on something because it will take you a week or two to update your resume because your last update was in 2007 – when you got your last job. Any time you complete a major project, or achieve a major operational goal, you should make sure to update your resume to reflect that accomplishment. Any kind of significant professional development activities, educational enhancements, etc. should also go on the resume as soon as you have completed them. This all leads to:

Rule #3 – Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and active. Do not confuse this with keeping your resume up to date. Your LinkedIn profile isn’t a pure cut and paste from your resume. Information from your resume serves as the foundation for your LinkedIn profile but there is so much more for you to include – i.e. samples of work projects, a summary of yourself, recommendations, etc. Much like your resume, any achievements should be captured on your LinkedIn profile as soon as possible. Keep your profile up to date. Make sure to give and ask for recommendations to include on your profile BEFORE you begin an active job search. (See Rule #1). Your LinkedIn profile is often the starting point for many recruiters so you would be wise to invest the time in keeping it up to date.

Rule #4 – Give to get. Quite simply, the more supportive you are of your network, with your peers and with your LinkedIn groups, the more supportive they will be of you. If you are active in sharing content, etc. on LinkedIn, when the time comes for you to “ask” of your connections, the more likely they will be to respond and assist. As well, providing comments/inputs on relevant blogs is a great way of “giving.” Bloggers love to receive comments from their readership, so go ahead, leave a comment, share an idea, etc. You will be amazed at how bloggers will reciprocate and embrace you as part of their network going forward. As well, if you have a Twitter account (if you don’t, you should), the more you share of others content, the more they will want to share and assist you. Remember, what goes around comes around.

Rule #5 – Keep your references up to date and in contact with them. This way, you are not only keeping in contact with your network (see Rule #1 again), but you are also subtly keeping yourself top of mind with them. It may provide you an opportunity to follow Rule #4, but also allows you to quickly respond to potential employers should you obtain a job interview with a reference request. Bottom line, you don’t want the first time that someone hears from you in say, 7 years, to be when you are looking for something from them – i.e. a reference.

There you have it: five Golden Rules of networking & job search. Truth be told, there are a lot more but this is a good start and should get you well on your way in preparation for, or as part of, your job search. I wish you the best of luck and if anyone else has other tips they would like to add I would love to hear from you.

Image courtesy of Tim Tyrell-Smith/Flickr.com


One Response

  1. […] Job search tips If you’re looking for a new job, or thinking of doing so in the New Year, the Armchair HR Manager recommends five rules to follow: 1. Think of networking as an investment; 2. Keep your resume up to date; 3. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and active; 4. Be supportive of your peer network and LinkedIn groups; 5. Keep in touch with your references. The golden rules of job search (and networking) […]

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