Helping Job Seekers 202

Posted on August 7, 2009

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So you’re helping your friend find a job, or a new job. She’s got a realistic goal, an elevator pitch, and she’s up-to-date and active in social media. The trouble is, you don’t know anybody in your friend’s field. Now what?

Your friend should target some companies – say, 10 – where she might like to work. She should research those companies at places like glassdoor.com. She should look them up in Dunn & Bradstreet (where I live, we can get access through the county library’s website). When she’s got a list of 10, she should share it with you.

You should go to LinkedIn.com and look up each company, one at a time. Sort the results by relationship. Even if those companies are outside your work experience, you’ll probably find people that you know. Take this opportunity to build your own network, and invite them to your network. If you need to, request another friend to introduce you. I recently did this exercise with 10 software companies in the Seattle area, and was astonished at the number of people who are in my network, or are only two steps removed from me. That’s despite my never having worked in software! The point of having you do this is seeing if you can introduce your friend to someone at her target companies.

Make sure the friend you’re helping is part of your network. Invite her to network events and group events. Make sure she’s going out to career mixers and industry events. Hopefully there are even related conventions nearby. Remind her to volunteer and to stay active in organizations that interest her.After all, she’s not going to find a job, or a new job, sitting at home. Make sure she’s talking about these efforts in social media so recruiters can see her activities.

Encourage and support your friend to meet with people in her network. Cold-calling can be intimidating, so check in with her regularly to make sure she’s doing it. Her goal should always be building rapport. Her secondary goal is finding ways to help the people she’s meeting, even if it’s only recommending another candidate to whoever she’s meeting. Finally, she should be gathering first-hand impressions about the company.

There’s a famous story about General George S. Patton in WWII. His unit was held up by a river. He drove up to the engineers. They were poring over a map, deciding where to build a bridge. The general pointed at the map and told them to build at that point. They told him they didn’t know how deep the river was there. He said, “It’s this deep,” and pointed at a line on his pants where the river had soaked them. Not content with second- and third-hand reports, Patton went out and saw for himself. Your friend should be doing the same.

Of course, if you do know someone in her field, there’s still work to be done.

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