Often, people that have been in a job search for a while and have been learning all they can to become more effective in their search efforts, can get too sophisticated for their own good.
While it is important to work out how to have effective networking conversations, and prepare thoroughly for interview questions, it’s best when those conversations sound genuine and natural. When most of the conversations sounds contrived in order make a certain impression, it rarely creates the rapport that’s necessary to gain further interest.
While the listener may indeed be impressed by the obvious mastery of corporate lingo, impressive experience, or deep technical skills, if they don’t fully understand what you’re talking about, they will nod in approval, but not respond with referrals, ideas, or further interest.
When an Information Technology professional tells their non-technical networking contact:
My background as a UNIX Systems Engineer has given me terrific skills in Perl scripting, Kernel programming, server capacity planning as well as some exposure to Cisco router configurations and WAN Engineering.
They are frustrated that “this job networking stuff” doesn’t seem to work for them.
A Corporate HR professional connecting with a Mechanical Engineer at a company they would like to pursue says:
I’ve been able to improve the ROI on our Human Capital investment by focusing on culture characteristics that don’t foster better corporate communication and employee interfaces.
The Mechanical Engineer, who considers himself a generally intelligent person, thinks… “Huh???”, nods, but has no idea who else they could refer them to.
The Staff Accountant interviewing with the HR recruiter who doesn’t have an accounting background tells them:
Even though it wasn’t required, I got a FINRA registration in my last position to be able to interface with the advisory team. That combined with my GAPP knowledge, my CMA, and my CAPM experience makes me a perfect fit for this role.
They find the recruiter gives them a smiling nod, but then are surprised when the interview process doesn’t seem to go any further.
The Marketing Analyst interviewing with the hiring manager says:
My greatest weakness in my career has been that I work too hard and don’t turn it off at 5:00. My focus on looking for strategic advantages to improve the ROI drives me to set high expectations for both me and my team.
The manager is polite, but the conversation never seems to warm up, and the candidate feels like they just didn’t seem to have chemistry.
Great preparation includes being able to communicate in “layman’s” terms and not sound like you’re reciting contrived and canned lines and answers. Rapport and chemistry are very important in the networking and hiring process and people generally don’t warm up to someone that sounds like they’re reading a script, or speaking over their head!
If the Staff Accountant instead says something like:
I’ve been able to complete additional relevant certifications and training that help me communicate better and become more effective in my role. I believe those courses can prepare me better to be productive quickly in this position.
Or the Marketing Analyst, more genuinely answers:
One of my weaknesses has been the tendency to get distracted during the day at times. So I’ve learned to use my calendar and task lists more effectively to stay on track.
They find that they are much better received, they begin to form a better relationship, and their networking results improve.
Authenticity goes a long way in connecting effectively with people. Prepare, practice, and develop effective Elevator Speeches and interview answers. However, focus on them sounding genuine, conversational, and natural for you. Don’t use someone else’s pre-canned words and phrases, especially when they don’t come across as something you would naturally say.
Keep things simple! Be authentic! …and you will see better results!