Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Jumpstart your networking – tracking the effectiveness of your efforts and focusing on the more productive

Posted in job search and career development, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 30, 2010

One again, I am going to focus on job search in this posting, as a specific reason to network and as a working example for how to measure and track the effectiveness of your networking efforts. I will simply add that the same basic approaches I outline here would apply just as strongly to other types of goal-directed networking too.

I find myself thinking back to a conversation I once had with a career coach about measuring progress in a job search. He argued that the only real measure of progress was in whether you actually get a job out of it and that in effect, there were not other possible measures for really knowing how well you are doing in a quantifiable sense until then. I take a different approach to this issue, and present my approach here, starting with some of the basics to set a foundation for what is to come.

• When you are looking for a next job your search activities collectively comprise a job in and of themselves – your job search is a job and a good, effective job search demands the same level and consistency of effort as any other job.
• The search process as a whole that you work on is a business, and like any other business, you can and should track business performance and effectiveness.
• As a rough first cut on were to measure, look to the numbers as to what types of search activities tend, at a demographics level to lead to the best results, bottom line for actually landing a job.

So if very few people find that next job through newspaper jobs listings don’t focus much if any attention there. Instead focus on networking, and on cold calling, where you reach out to specific individuals you do not already have direct networking leads to, and as a third level use carefully selected online jobs boards and the jobs listings on business web sites. Put your efforts where people like you, as a trend, are finding the most success in their searches. But simply putting your efforts in the right general direction can only be a first step.

Networking is currently, at least the single most effective approach to finding a next job for most industries, functional areas, job levels, geographic areas and when measured and parsed according to most any job constraints box criteria. Most of what I offer as quantifiable measures of progress and success apply, however, to any mix of basic search approaches and even if networking per se is more limited in your particular search, or if it is just one component of a larger strategy.

An effective search is an organized process with specific steps, and as a brief summary they would include:

1. Self assessment and from this development of a clearer goals assessment as to the types of job you should pursue.
2. Background research that includes networking and informational interviews to help you more clearly focus in on where those jobs are.
3. Identifying specific businesses and other organizations, and specific job titles to pursue in your search.
4. Networking into these businesses and reaching out to their hiring managers were you can to network with them.
5. Resume and cover letter preparation that focuses on these jobs and the businesses that seek to fill them, and their needs and priorities.
6. Interviewing, which can in and of itself be in several steps from initial screening interview to final interviews with the hiring manager.
7. Follow through on each of the interviews that you get, and for each of these interviewing steps.
8. Negotiating the terms of the hire, as to what your compensation package will be like, when you start and other issues.

Here I stress that:

• The purpose of your background research and networking is to find the jobs you wish to pursue and to help you get your more focused search campaigns started.
• The purpose of a resume is to get a first interview and get your foot in a door.
• The purpose of any given interview is to get that next interview as the hiring manager sets aside your competition as possible hires, until you are the only candidate left.
• The purpose of your follow-throughs with letters and other initiatives is to address any open issues that will help the hiring manager see your interest and enthusiasm for working with them, and your ability to do so. This helps you stay in the running because you remain in a positive focus in their thoughts and considerations and this can help selectively highlight where you offer unique value among the candidates under review, where that value directly addresses the issues and priorities of the hiring manager.
• And negotiations seal the deal.

I have written extensively on this process and how to make it work in my ongoing series on job search and career development and simply summarize it here to highlight a point – that you want to measure progress and performance through the various stages of a business process, here in job search, by benchmarking what you can identify as meaningful, significant steps in your business processes. Knowing what these steps are is the first crucial step to measuring how you are doing in them, and knowing how they fit into your overall plan helps define the metrics you use.

As a general rule, you want to keep actively working on every one of the basic steps in the numbered list shown above, throughout your search until you successfully complete your search and finalize getting your next job. Even a very positive campaign to land a specific job can fall through for no fault of your own and even when the hiring manager has said they would like to hire you. I have, for example, seen budgets for hiring evaporate so hiring managers cannot hire even when they have crucial positions to fill and candidates they see as ideal. So always keep active in the entire process to limit the effect of setbacks, and to maintain your momentum in your search even if you do encounter setbacks.

• Effective metrics for search performance should both measure productive activity and also track your effectiveness in limiting the effects of these setbacks.
• They should be performance based – centered on what you actively do and on knowable likely effect from theme in reaching your longer term goal of getting that job.

The first specific metric I will offer is in how many initiatives you have in the works at any given time. For most people, looking full time and searching as a full time effort means actively working on five to six possibilities at any given time. At first all of these will be in early stages of the overall process of a job search but as you progress more will move on to later stages including the interviewing and follow-through steps.

Determine from your energy levels and from your ability to organize and manage your work flow, how many individual campaigns you can carry out at once, whether they are in actively researching a key potential industry or company within it, or pursuing s specific job opportunity there. With experience conducting a search you will find you can work more effectively and get more done so they number will rise.

In your networking, which should continue throughout, track how many people you connect with and here the goal is to develop conversations where you can gather real vale and share it too. So only count your contacts you connect with in any given time period where you are developing and maintaining an active ongoing dialog, or where you can point to a specific point of value you have received that will help you in your search. Your numbers here can and will go up as your search proceeds and as to actively develop and maintain your networking reach.

Few people ever get hired sight unseen. Networking can work by phone and even by email but keep track of how many face to face meetings you have and only count the ones where you can see a direct connection from them to at least one aspect of your search for at least one of your specific-position campaigns.

Keep track of your time off and in this I do not mean time and effort you take to maintain a stable life through this time of uncertainty of your search. Here, I refer entirely to what might be called busy-work. Limit the time and energy you expend in roughly or sort of the direction of your search but that you cannot see specific goals directed value in. Track how you use your time to keep it as focused on your search and on your specific campaigns in it as possible. And if you do take time off from the search itself, and you should to keep a balance and perspective in your life be clear with yourself that this is what you are doing.

And with this I have now written what I suspect is my longest posting to date at about 1600 words, but this is a complex, if important topic. Many of not most job searches that get into trouble do so for a failure to in any way track effectiveness of effort or keep the search effectively on track.

I am going to post at least one more jumpstart posting as a number 5 in this set and I will add more on tracking your effectiveness as part of that.

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