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The Power of Networking

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In the 19th Century and before that, getting a job without being known or recommended to your prospective employer was almost impossible. That was Networking. Hiring someone from off the street, was unknown and rarely happened.

In countries where access to a large number of jobs is being obtained through, friends and relatives or other associations with specific groups, NETWORKING has become, again,the primary tool for a Job Search. Perhaps it was always like that and we have only relatively recently started to focus on it with a new catch phrase. What it means is simply linking up with people and organizations that could help you in securing a new job.

Networking Groups

Local religious and civic organizations often sponsor job networking groups. So do libraries, your local Chamber of Commerce and your Career Center. The best sources for information on community groups are

Chamber of Commerce
Religious and Church groups
The message board of your local University and Community Colleges
Professional Associations, Trade Unions Workers Associations and other Local chapters of work-related membership associations
Civic clubs like Rotary, Lions, and Kiwanis
Career Centers
Your local government's volunteer placement agency
Newspaper business section, which often has ads or meeting notices for job clubs

The community groups are open to job seekers of any kind and any level. Most groups are run by volunteers at no cost except for a small contribution. Some of them meet once a week, others are well organized and have permanent offices and they often invite speakers. You can enter most groups anytime.Some job groups focus on professionals who meet certain criteria, for instance certain age groups.

Some groups are sponsored by career development organizations. They often include more services but cost more. Fees can vary from about $75 for a year to several hundred dollars for courses and workshops. When selecting courses be careful that the courses are really relevant to your needs. The primary skills people lack today are resume writing skills and interview techniques. It is also quite shocking to find that a very large number of people cannot write or express themselves coherently on either on paper or in a discussion. Similarly, arguing is not the same as discussion a problem. So if you find courses that help you in that, they are worth the money.

Structured job-search programs can also be very helpful. They bring you together with people who are in the same boat as you and they widen your experience. Especially people who have been in the same job or with the same company for many years, find it often difficult to accept that their skills and abilities, while valuable to their former employer have little or no value in the open market. Reeducation experience through meeting of people with different backgrounds might help them find new avenues on how they could market such skills. After training, members can often meet in "Job Clubs" to help each other review job plans, prepare for interviews, and get moral support. Access to phones, privacy and computers are also valuable resources.

Online Job Networking Groups

There are many online networking groups targeted to specific professions or to well defined groups of people. Not all of them are useful and some seem to be groups that grew out of resentment, against injustice or a dismissal, rather than for the purpose of helping each other find a job. While the resentment groups might offer some temporary "moral support" for your predicament, they are also reinforcing existing misconceptions. The whole purpose of networking though, is to broaden your horizon and look at old problems in a new way so that you fit into new situations and more importantly, convince a recruiter or employers that you will fit into those! So be aware of these pitfalls.

Many well organized on-line networking groups have discussion boards where you can pick up on an existing or start a new discussion topic whenever you want. Past discussions can also be useful to find out how others are handling their job search.

The important aspect though is to realize that your main goal is to find a job and most of the time should be concentrated on that. Discussion boards and help groups are just tools to further that aim, they are not an end in themselves.

The best way to start is to set some goals and then write up specific questions. A sort of "how to...?" for job seekers. That way you can pursue and obtain directed help. Take notes and do not forget to obtain as many job leads.

While you should not be paranoid, take some care about revealing your real name, address and contact numbers online. Some commercial enterprises target online groups with something to sell. A few have fraudulent intentions. But if you use common sense, then you should be able to stay clear of those.

Some Basic Rules for Networking

Whenever you go to a meeting of a networking group, bring copies of your resume with you and distribute them! Do not come out of the meeting with left over copies!
Make sure the meeting covers your own needs!t. Have one or two specific questions to ask at each job network meeting, or in each online session.
Write down your ideas before you enter the meeting or an online session!
Avoid groups of "regulars" that spend most of the time sympathizing with each other.This might give you some moral support but little else. You primarily want leads and and new approaches in your job search.
When joining a group, find two or three job seekers you connect with. Arrange to meet, or email each other when one of you is discouraged. That way you "can bounce off ideas and suggestions" on each other!

International Networking

International networking, outside the USA and Canada, are a whole lot more difficult. For one thing, cultural rules tend to be different from country to country and what is acceptable in the USA is not, by necessity, acceptable elsewhere. Our suggestion is that unless you really do know the country in which you want to network, you have, at the very least, to know the language fluently. Unless you do, you should use a professional job search service, rather than rely on a do-it-yourself-method. Obviously, that does not preclude approaching the "cousin you have in IBM in Ireland, to see what jobs are available there!"

Some OnLine Networking Job Boards

An increasing number of job and recruitment sites also operate Network boards. Some of them, as in in the case of JobLine International are simply message boards and the quality of the information, respectively its usefulness, depends wholly on the people who actually use those boards. Other sites have dedicated Networking boards that include articles to help you keep abreast of developments in your job specialization. Some of the are free, but an increasing number tend to be pay-boards that require a monthly or annual subscription. This is not an unreasonable suggestion and the charges are generally moderate. Some offer a free registration, but then will charge you for whatever service you actually need.

There are obviously hundreds of networking boards around, some local and some national, with each board offering something special. You simply have to find the one most appropriate for yourself and your own circumstances. Networking does not replace an active job search, but it can be a great help.

Networking through Executive Search, Headhunters and Employment Agencies

Executive Search is an extremely tough and competitive business. The primary client for an executive search consultant is an employer offering a job. It is the prospective employer the executive search consultant has to convince, with the way the consultant approaches the problem of filling a given job. It has to be fast, efficient and cost effective. Clearly, the consultant will only present candidates that involve low risk and generally "fit the bill". Because, the last thing the consultant wants to do is replace a candidate after he has started and found to be "wanting".

This implies that the executive search consultant will look at your resume only in the light of what kind of job vacancy assignments he has either to fill at this moment of has a reasonable certainty of getting in the near future.

The executive search consultants have their use in networking, but, unless you are lucky and what you offer coincides exactly with what the consultants has on his book, do not expect immediate results. The employer is their client, not you! From their point of vie this makes sense: An employer pays between 10 and 30% of the employees first year salary, sometimes total remuneration, for having an executive search firm find the right employee. The prospective employer usually gets a 3 to 6 month "warranty", in other words, if the employee does not fit, the search starts afresh and the executive search consultant will replace him without charging another fee.

That does not diminish the value of executive search firms, but you have to see it in perspective.

There are some consultancies where the client is the job seeker not the employer. They will, against payment, approach potential employers on behalf of the job seeker. As a general rule, the fee charged is rather nominal, usually from $100 to 500, depending on the extent of the search. Some in specialist areas like outplacement, that is placing longer term unemployed executives, will charge a lot more, but often offer additional services such as counseling, interview techniques and similar services.

Are these services worth the money? The answer really depends on how desperate you are in finding a job and how much time you have for doing that. These services have their use, especially when you work and when you have little time to do a proper search for a job. They are also very helpful in searching for jobs in unfamiliar territory, either geographically or in professions where the job seekers knowledge is limited. There are, as always, scams and the rule here is, if the consultant or company offers opportunities that are in the realms of fantasy, then the proposition might also be in that sphere! So beware and limit your greed!

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