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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 29, 2010

Job hunters should give computer a rest, start networking

By Andrea Kay

No doubt you have heard that it's a good idea to connect with live humans when looking for a job. And you likely know, too, that it's best to cease the activity that's probably taking up most of your time sitting in front of your computer and shooting off your resume to online sites, then sitting around some more wondering why you never hear anything.

Still, so few listen.

Take this conversation I had last week with a Frustrated Job Hunter (FJH for short).

FJH: "I'm applying for jobs online and not getting anywhere."

Me: "So why don't you stop?"

FJH: "I need a job."

Me: "You need a strategy."

FJH: "Yeah, I guess. I keep hitting brick walls."

Me: "You will until you have a strategy that involves getting to know people."

FJH: "I know I should network. I'm hesitant."

Me: "Why?"

She ignores my question and says, "I have a good education; I keep sending out my resume to get their attention."

Getting attention. That's how she thinks she'll get her next job. I beg to differ.

Your next job will be had not because you grabbed a stranger's attention among thousands, but because you went from being a nobody to a somebody an employer wants on their team.

The question is: What are you doing to earn that? Not much if you're pushing "click" on your computer all day.

If though, you want to build a sterling reputation among people you know and will get to know and that stands heads above others, here's how.

First, quit looking for a job. When you tell everyone, "I need a job" people feel sorry for you and want to help. But you can bet your sweet bippy they won't know of one at that very moment.

Even if you say, "Let me know if you hear of anything," you can be just as certain they won't be thinking much about you after you walk away. They have their own problems.

But if you take time to set and hold meaningful conversations with people, you will begin to build a reputation that will lead to your next career position. Having conversations lets you discuss the types of problems you solve and explain how you've done this successfully in the past. It's also a chance to share ideas on how you can help a company be more competitive today.

This won't necessarily lead to an immediate job offer. But it does put you in a whole new light. Instead of feeling sorry for you, people are problem solving with you. They see you as a potential value to them. Or someone they know. They see you as a resource they'll want to remember after the two of you part ways.

Another plus: You can ask these people to refer you to other people and hold similar conversations. The more people you talk to, the more your reputation spreads, which increases your odds of unearthing your next job.

There's more to come. You continue to build your reputation by following up. Besides reinforcing your professionalism with folks who have invested time in you, follow-up keeps you alive in their minds, in case something changes and they have a need for your problem-solving skills or run into someone who does.

There will come a time when you click with someone who has a problem you can solve. This is your cue to create a proposal outlining their needs and specific ways you can help. And that can lead to a job offer.

Why would you keep doing the same thing over and over when it isn't working? Stop clicking. Start talking.