Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking and job search part 2 – building a foundation

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 12, 2009

Social networking is all about reaching out to connect and share value but that cannot work in a vacuum. First, you have to work on two preliminary tasks. You have to have a really clear idea of what you are looking for and with what priorities and objectives, and you have to do some research as to where you can find the right people to help you reach your goals. You want to find a new job and you probably have a fairly clear idea of what you have been doing, where you would like to live and work geographically and what your desired salary range is. You probably also know roughly what type and level of position you would go for as a continuation of the career path you have been following. When you are looking though, you face an opportunity as well as a lot of challenges. This is a time you can sit back and look around and ask if the decisions you have been making, perhaps largely on the basis of inertia, are in fact the ones you want to continue with.

This is the basic self-assessment process that most any career counseling service would have you work through and I cite the Five O’Clock Club’s exercises as a working example. Their approach includes an exercise where you assemble a list of things you have done and experiences you have had that gave you a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Then you write out briefly but with sufficient detail to help you organize your thoughts, a separate description of each of the most significant items on your list for the top seven or so and these become your stories. What it is about your selected seven that makes them so positive and perhaps even transformative for you? Think about them and about the patterns in them and the features they hold in common and look for a next career opportunity that meshes with what you find here. These stories offer from the detail of your own experience, insight into what you would find most satisfying and what you could seek out in a next position with the greatest intensity of focus and energy. These are where you could come across most effectively in an interviewing process too for the enthusiasm and the level of engagement you would bring to the table.

The Five O’Clock Club uses other self-assessment exercises in combination with this, and whatever approach you take, this type of exercise can offer real insight. But the unemployment rate is very high and a great many people are applying for each and every job so is this realistic? The answer to that is yes and especially if you are also looking for an umbrella job to help keep the bills paid while you decide on and work towards landing a better job for you and your career. And umbrella job in this context is simply a position that helps you keep the rain off your head while you look. So think and plan in terms of both, with short-term and longer term job search initiatives. And in both cases plan and follow through systematically and take both searches seriously.

The other preliminary step is to research industries and companies that would connect with your search goals, and the types of positions they would have that you would see as meeting your goals. This is a business intelligence exercise and this is one of several places where online social networking can be of real help.

If I was thinking of pursuing a position with the X Corporation in IT, I would look them up online and go to their web site. I would go to sites like www.monster.com and would see how many positions they have showing for X Corporation, and with what dates for initial inclusion, and I would look for indications of job posting resubmission too and inclusion of revisions for long-posted positions. This addresses both levels of hiring need and level of follow-through in meeting that need and this is all about company strategies and priorities and where the company is headed.

I would look to see what is happening at all levels in the company and definitely in the department I am interested in working at, as evidence of a significant turn-over at a level above the one I was looking at for myself would tell me a lot about the company and its level of growth or change. Lots of turnover at the top probably means a department in flux and with shifting and unsettled goals and priorities, and this in connection with a lot of long-posted openings adds a cautionary note. Turnover rates for more basic, lower level positions can tell a lot about what it is like to work at a place too, so looking for data regarding both higher level positions and lower level positions can be very informative.

I would also go to a site like LinkedIn and do a search by company name, and with geographic and departmental search terms added to my queries as I do successive search queries. I would look for both numbers of profiles showing and I would review a selection of the profiles I find for detailed content. Who shows as working there now and what are their numbers and titles, and how long have they been there? Do they have things in common as to where they worked last? What do their profiles say about their own personal professional background and experience? That type of data offers insight as to what a hiring manager might be looking for as fitting into their comfort zone. I will add that recurring patterns and commonalities in what people in that department show in their backgrounds can be of real help to know about. If you have these things in your background too, you want to be sure to bring that up in what you share with the company and the hiring manager in your job search there. If not, you want to be prepared to show how your background meets their needs too That means knowing what this issue is in the first place so you can be prepared for it.

What do these profiles say about the specific types of things that current employees have worked on and what do they indicate as to what they are working on now? What jargon do they use? You want to be able to talk with these people like an insider and know their issues and priorities and their professional language. Coordinately using a site like LinkedIn, the company web site and perhaps some key blogs coming from members of that department can help you put together a really effective understanding of the company and its thinking and priorities and this can help you develop a marketing campaign to get that job that less informed competitors cannot match.

Remember to look for profiles of past and recent employees too in this due diligence and business intelligence gathering. You definitely need to know if there is rapid turnover for people taking the position you are looking at, or your would-be supervisor’s position.

So far, this is all background research, but when you have done it you should have a good idea as to who you want to networking to and meet with. That may very well include identifying the hiring manager for your would-be next job. At the very least this gives you a list of where you would put your efforts in getting your foot in the door, and your initial list should definitely include anyone there who you are already know and are directly connected with through your networking.

Tomorrow I am going to post a second part on business intelligence from a business development perspective and the day after that, I will pick up on this thread again and delve into taking that next step and actively networking into the company. I will also discuss practice networking with lower priority target companies to make sure you have everything going smoothly when approaching your top choices.

3 Responses

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  1. […] Social networking and job search part 2 – building a foundation …8 hours ago by Tim Platt  And umbrella job in this context is simply a position that helps you keep the rain off your head while you look. So think and plan in terms of both, with short-term and longer term job search initiatives. And in both cases plan and … […]

  2. […] Social networking and job search part 2 – building a foundation …10 hours ago by Tim Platt  Social networking is all about reaching out to connect and share value but that cannot work in a vacuum. First, you have to work on two preliminary tasks. You have to have a really clear idea of what you are looking for and with what … Tags: Social Networking […]

  3. […] When you are first determining what your best next job would be you probably come up with a list of recurring words and concepts that would enter into any best fit […]


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