Networking for a job the right way

The Chick-fil-A at Alpharetta Highway and Holcomb Bridge in Roswell serves up more than egg biscuits and coffee on Wednesday mornings. You can get some good advice on the best ways to search for a job, too.

Sagar Thumaty

Sagar Thumaty

At 10 a.m., members of the Atlanta IT Advisory Group meet to help each other prospect for information technology jobs. The structured meetings, between crunch times at breakfast and lunch, seem to work well for the members and the restaurant. Over the past two-and-a-half years, about 660 have attended, with many using the tools learned to land jobs.

“Without groups like this and my faith, I don’t know what I would have done,” said Ed Springer, a technical support engineer from Marietta who’s looking for work.

Last week, 15 people showed up, despite the heavy rain. There were two newcomers, two people who just got jobs and a former member who brought by a job description for a position he was hiring for.

There are many tips to learn from a group like this, including:

– Networking for a job, as opposed to wasting time by blindly applying on the Web, is more science than art. The key is to build relationships over time that can produce results.

Ed Springer

Ed Springer

– It’s important to target 15 to 20 companies. Each of the companies should be researched. An important part of that research entails trying to meet three people for you to interview at each company for about 20 minutes. At a Chick-fil-A, for example.

You’re the one asking the questions. You’re trying to find out what it’s like to work there and where the company’s “pain” might be. Essentially, you’re trying to find out a company’s weak areas to see if your skills and experience can help solve a problem there. Your goal is to establish a relationship with the person you are meeting — not to ask about job openings.

– Sagar Thumaty’s experience, which he relayed to the group last week, is an example of how that advice can work. Thumaty, 51, from Duluth, just landed an analyst-programmer job after being unemployed for 20 months.

How? He saw an opening on the Web at a company he had “researched” and immediately contacted the person he had met from that company. That person then provided Thumaty with the HR contact. An interview and job followed.

– Do not put your address on your business cards. With so many potential candidates, companies often throw job seekers into one of several “penalty boxes” to reduce the number. One way is by assuming that people will not travel to work beyond a certain distance. But if they don’t know where you live, you can at least avoid that penalty box.

– If you’ve been in an occupation for a long time, just say 10 years-plus on your resume. And just include the last 15 years of work history. Again, you’re trying to avoid the “over-qualified” and “too expensive” penalty boxes.

– When you go for a formal interview, try to ask a quick question at the start: What in my resume led you to bring me in? The response can highlight what they’re looking for and how to respond to questions.

This just scratches the surface. There are plenty of good groups and advice out there. Go build relationships.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Comments are closed.