Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking, job search and career management – part 1 of a new series

Posted in book recommendations, in the News, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 9, 2009

Yesterday I wrote at the end of my posting that I want to explore some of the areas and ways that effective business social networking can enrich and improve job search and how it helps in developing and managing a career. I indicated that I was thinking in terms of a single posting but this is too complex and important an issue for a quick single nod as a quickly written single posting. So I am going to assemble a small series of postings on this and I am going to collect them together under a new blogging category – “job search and career development”.

I am also going to put this posting into “book recommendations” and “in the news”, at least for this installment as I want to start this series by putting this into a current events context and I have some great book and URL recommendations to share.

First the news context: earlier this week I attended a meeting with a group of technology executives that I am a member of, and a key topic for discussion throughout the room was the unemployment problem, and how this is impacting on all business sectors, all areas of functional specialization and at all levels of experience and job levels. A few days ago I read in the news that the official national unemployment rate here in the United States is slowing in its monthly rate of increase but that it is now 9.8%. That number is, of course, very misleading as it does not include people who are out of work and looking but who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. And with more and more people doing that, at least part of this decrease might be due to more and more of the still unemployed simply falling out of sight according to this metric. I will also add that this 9.8% figure does not in any way count people who are under-employed, working part time but unable to make ends meet. So this is a national crisis that is only partly reflected in the official numbers as if the tip of a larger iceberg. And this is of course, not simply a one-nation problem. It is global in extent and impact. And if it impacts on industries and nations, and on a macroeconomic level it all plays out on a much more personal per-person, per-family and per-business level and the levels of microeconomics and accounting, family budgeting definitely included.

Effective job search and career management and development skills are crucial in effectively navigating a path through these challenges and effective social networking skills are a key to making that work, and both for finding possible positions and for applying to and landing them. That is the central focus for what I want to write about from this general issue here, but I want to do so in a broader context of effective job search and career management per se as networking is at best an integrated component of a larger process.

That is the news context and now I want to share the book and related recommendations. And I want to start with a recommendation for a general resource that I have found of great value in learning about effective job search as a systematic ongoing process: The Five O’Clock Club (http://www.fiveoclockclub.com). This is only one of a wide range of effective job coaching and outplacement services, but along with direct meeting and consulting services, the Club offers a series of topic area specific books and other resources
(http://www.fiveoclockclub.com/publications1_index.shtml)
which I have found to be very insightful and helpful. You can purchase their books directly from the Club and you can also purchase them through Barnes & Nobles or other standard book stores. I see them as the gold standard for systematically and in detail outlining all the steps to a full, fully effective job search from determining your strengths and what types of position you want to search for through identifying specific companies and positions and applying them, and on to post-interview follow-through and negotiating compensation packages. I will add that their approach applies to people who are looking to more effectively build consulting practices, just as it does for those looking for a more traditional position with benefits as an in-house employee.

There are a wide range of resources available besides this organization and its books and I know that any list I offer is going to be incomplete and even for best-choice selections. I invite anyone who follows this blog who has a favorite not cited here to share information on it through a posting comment and thanks to anyone who does that. Meanwhile, I want to share a few other selections that come to my mind and that I have found informative.

• Bolles, Richard N. (2009 edition newest so far) What Color is Your Parachute? Ten Speed Press.
This is the annually revised and updated flagship publication for what amounts to a job search resource and career counseling empire. Mr. Bolles and his company also maintain a web site at http://www.jobhuntersbible.com that is maintained to help meet the needs of people who use the Parachute book and their other print resources.
• Sonnenfeld, Jeffrey and Ward, Andrew. (2007) Firing Back: how great leaders rebound after career disasters. Harvard Business School Press.
This book offers insight for people who may have left their last positions under any of a wide variety of unfortunate conditions and it is useful for a lot more than just senior management trying to pick up the pieces. There are enough ways for someone to not be able to cite their former boss or employer when looking for that next opportunity, for this type of resource to hold real value and it offers insight into how corporate cultures work in general that would be useful to anyone who studies organizations and how they do and do not function.

I have other possible references to share here but will keep this list short and to three reference sources, at least with this posting.

There are a very large number of books, web sites magazine articles and other resources available and I would suggest a simple test for deciding which one(s) to turn to. Open the book or magazine/article to a place at random and start reading, and repeat. The same applies to browsing a web site or other online resource. Then ask yourself if the things you find with a few dips into the content are well written and clearly stated, and if you have learned at least something that would be of help to you. Does it sound believable and realistic or does it come across as hype and a sales pitch? If you have found positive value, then this is probably going to be a helpful resource and even if it does not turn out to be your best such selection. If you cannot understand what they are saying for their jargon and writing style, or you find the content unhelpful put that one back on the shelf and switch to the next to see if that is going to be a good choice for you.

So far I have touched on the “in the news” and the “book recommendation” parts of this posting and now I want to at least start on the search itself with a few overarching considerations. The first and most important is that finding a new job, and beyond that mapping out and managing a career is a job in itself. So when you are looking you have a job, or at least a significant part time job. Whether you are unemployed and looking more full time or already working and looking for a better opportunity on the side and as time permits, this means making a consistent commitment to doing something to forward your effort every single day.

A second point that connects into this and is pretty much equally important is that any job search has to be systematic and well thought through, and that means planning and strategy and it means following through systematically on a clear process and its steps.

Building and managing a career is built out of job searches and evaluations of the positions currently held, and in asking and seeking to answer longer term questions of personal goals and priorities. Careers are what happen as a cumulative result of working and looking and moving to more rewarding positions as you gain knowledge and experience. Careers can be managed so you proceed with a sense of where you want to end up.

I will be digging a bit deeper into the processes and steps, and the strategy of a job search in the next posting in this series, and I will start really discussing business social networking as it supports and sustains this.

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  1. […] Social networking, job search and career management – part 1 of a …5 hours ago by Tim Platt  Yesterday I wrote at the end of my posting that I want to explore some of the areas and ways that effective business social networking can enrich and improve job search and how it helps in developing and managing a career. … […]


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