Networking: Before & After the Job Search

 

I read a great article by Hannah Morgan, from Career Sherpa.    The article was about job searches and how you should stay in touch with colleagues former and current.  As a recruiter, I have to check references and it is good when the current references are not the candidate’s neighbor or member of his/her church.  I get that you don’t want it known that you are looking but you need to make connections and you need to have a professional network.   Those networks also can help you when you want a better job or have just lost your job due to reorganization.   Here are the points that Hannah made which I think are very valid:

If there is one lesson you’ve learned from your job search, it’s that you should have done a better job keeping in touch with your past colleagues. Building a network from scratch is hard work, but you don’t have to start over. Just follow these suggestions to maintain your connections so they will be there the next time you need them:

  1. Recognize the value your network offers. In order to feel motivated to stay in touch, you have to understand the “why” behind the logic. Wouldn’t it be great to hear about a job while employed? This is always the best-case scenario, and it will only happen if your contacts remember you and what your expertise is.
  2. Schedule time on your calendar. There’s the old saying: “That which gets scheduled gets done.” It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you get so busy mastering your new job. Cut yourself some slack those first few months, but get right back to networking. Put time on your schedule every month to reach out to your contacts or attend a professional association meeting.
  3. Develop a system for reaching out. If you develop a system for your outreach, it will be much easier to maintain. Perhaps start with the people you met while job searching, and make a point to call them or meet with them for coffee. Share your gratitude and updates on how your new job is going. LinkedIn makes it easy to stay in touch as well.
  4. Never lose touch with recruiters. If you developed a working relationship with a recruiter or two, definitely make sure to thank them for the work they did during your search. Let the recruiter know you have landed a new job, but don’t take your name off the list. Tell the recruiter you would still like to be contacted if there is an opening that fits your background. If nothing else, you may know of people who would be a good fit for the job if you aren’t, and recruiters appreciate referrals.
  5. Give back. You now have greater empathy for those who are hunting for a new job. Remember how difficult your search was? There were days you were down and days you were up. Offer to help current job seekers by sharing your experience and lessons learned.
  6. Be an inside advocate. Whether you do it for the money or the intrinsic value, take time to share openings in your company with your contacts. Remember: You don’t always have to know the person you are referring well. It is alright to say you don’t know his or her work firsthand and that you are just facilitating an introduction.
  7. Join a professional association. One of the lessons you may have learned during your search was that you need to stay up to date on trends in your occupation and industry. Joining a professional association may not have been in your budget while searching for a job. Now that you are employed, see if your employer will pick up your membership either in full or in part.
  8. Choose mentors for the next phase of your career. A relationship with a mentor provides you with firsthand feedback and knowledge to refine your career. This mentor could be someone from your new company or from outside of your organization. Both have pros and cons, so you could choose one of each. The advantage to having more than one mentor is that you don’t feel like you are asking for too much from either one. One mentor may be able to help you navigate internal policies and politics. The other may be more helpful in helping you plot your career course.
  9. Keep your bucket list of people to meet full. Staying in touch with people you know is important. But there are still people you would like to get to know. Now that you have a job, you may feel more comfortable reaching out to someone and introducing yourself. And don’t forget to think about the key decision makers in your new company. Setting up a meeting with these key stakeholders could make a big difference in the support you get down the road. Always remember to state why meeting them is valuable to you and what you may be able to offer in return.
  10. Don’t wait until the next crisis. You’ve learned how challenging it is to build your network. When you have existing relationships, it feels much easier to ask for help, advice or information. This is why it is so important to continue to nurture and grow your network for long-term career success.

By Hannah Morgan Sept. 24, 2014 | Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored “Social Networking for Business Success,” and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career guidance; keep up with the latest job search trends and social networking strategies by reading her blog Career Sherpa and following her on Twitter @careersherpa and Google+.

 

Pati Kelly

Pati Kelly

Pati Kelly is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Wire and Cable. To learn more about how she can help your company identify and attract talent, check out her biography, view her LinkedIn profile or send her an email at pk@egretconsulting.com.

By |September 29th, 2014|Blog, Candidate Advice|0 Comments

Ethics

So much has changed in the past decade; political discussion has become so polarized that discussion is no longer a means to find solutions to problems; it’s a means to identify how wrong the opposing opinion is. The transformative issues in the electrical industry have changed the way we think about customers, products, services and competitors.

Amazon has announced their intent to sell all things to all people. As a corporate mission statement; that’s pretty strong stuff. As a strategy; it’s borderline useless. But it is provocative and that enables a richer discussion throughout the retail/wholesale marketplace. I find it interesting that NAED’s response to the Amazon threat is to publish regular affirmative statements from legacy distributor customers on how they will refuse to support an Amazon strategy. That is as warm as a puppy; but unfortunately, not very realistic. When Home Depot entered the electrical supply world, there were dozens of manufacturers decrying the disruption and stating they would never sell out to a large retailer and would remain loyal to supporting their wholesale supply chain. Home Depot quickly became one of the largest sellers of electrical equipment and the major players who sold to them; Ideal, Halo, Lithonia, SquareD, Leviton, etc… all thrived from the huge rush in revenue, and margins. Many distributors claimed it was unethical for their vendors to sell to Home Depot. Those same distributors probably feel the same about selling to Amazon. And for manufacturers to sell through the internet, or through ESCO’s or through Grainger, or any alternative strategy.

Ethics; “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad”. Is it morally wrong to sell to a competitor of your customer? What if that competitor shares only a small percentage of the same customer base of your customer? What ‘morals’ are violated if you contribute to the expansion of competition? What morals are violated if you sell your products into a market that is under-served by your current base of customers? Does ethics have a percentage of participation range to it?

The fundamental business practice of a wholesale distributor is to provide goods and services to customers. The act of creating, servicing and maintaining customers is up to each individual business entity. Is it morally wrong for ReMax to have 5 offices in the same city, or county? Is it a breach of ethics for a distributor to buy from 5 wiring device manufacturers? If one of those wiring device manufacturers sells to Amazon; does that materially harm that distributor, or do they simply move their buying emphasis towards the other 4 manufacturers? And is that ethical?

As Home Depot moved into electrical supplies, did the number of electrical supply houses decrease across the country? I think not; based upon EW’s annual Top 200 and distribution market statistics. Do we think Amazon will take away customers from wholesale distribution? I don’t believe that. I do believe that Amazon will pick up business from contractors and OEM customers based upon terms of sale: price and delivery. But I don’t believe Amazon can put any distributor out of business; assuming they do their job.

Developing customers and maintaining them is a challenge for all companies. Keeping a customer always is tied to the development of a relationship. Every company has problems that need to be resolved. The quality of a relationship is often tied to the quality of rectifying problems when they occur. Amazon’s strategy is to develop a ‘relationship’ virtually, based upon the size of their brand. Their best ability to create a relationship is to provide fast service and easy return policies; but providing customer solutions will challenge them. Local expertise and prompt and honest service will always trump price.

As recruiters, we are lumped into a very large class of ‘staffing providers’. We get painted by a large brush and we have to try every day to prove that ethics mean something. Just this week I received an inquiry from a candidate whom we placed several years ago within a company who asked me to help recruit him out. That company is no longer a client for several reasons, but our ethical practices won’t permit us to recruit a placed candidate away from the company. That company paid us for our services and we honor and respect that relationship. We can’t modify our ethics based upon what a new entrant decides to do in our market. We can modify our business strategy to address a competitive issue; but ethics are ethics.

The technological changes over the past decade or more have created serious disruptions to ethics; social media have largely wiped away standards of decorum and common sense. The expansion of media options have loosened the ethical approaches to ‘news’ as the standards of the past of verifying news prior to reporting have gone away. Our rush to be ‘first’ in repeating or starting a rumor fuels more participation. The ability to carefully discuss and arbitrate a difference of opinion is hampered by the inability to actually find credible facts in the first place. Topical has replaced trusted.

In our world of recruitment, we have to be bound by absolute confidentiality. We deal in transforming lives and companies; we treasure that responsibility. Rumors and gossip and innuendo have little place in qualifying and hiring professional talent.

But at the end of the day, ethics are personally held values of how we treat those around us. If it’s considered an ethical breach for a contractor to buy from Amazon, when his local distributor was closed or incapable of providing the product when he needed it; then the ethical relationship that exists between that contractor and distributor will be forever changed. For ethics to ‘work’; they have to be mutually communicated and shared. Open communications will thwart competitive threats far more readily than cutting prices.

Ted Konnerth, PhD

Ted Konnerth, Egret Consulting Group’s founder and CEO, recruits on a retained basis, helping leaders in the electrical and lighting industry identify their next C and V-level hire. He is also the executive director for the International Retained Search Associates, allowing him to liaise with skilled recruiters around the globe. To learn more about how Ted can help your company attract talent view his biography, check him out on LinkedIn or email him at tk@egretconsulting.com.

By |September 18th, 2014|Blog, Industry Commentary, Newsletter|0 Comments