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Great networkers don’t need a great resume!

So often, people agonize over creating a dynamic resume, one that will make the difference in getting the attention they need for the job of their dreams.

While I’m a proponent of having an effective resume, it’s often unnecessary if the job seeker is doing a great job of networking!

That’s a startling thought to many people when I say that. People usually think that one of the top requirements of a job search is to have an attention-getting resume.

It depends, let me explain.



When a great resume does help…
When you apply for a position where your background fits the job requirements very closely, and you can’t find an opportunity to connect directly with people at the organization… a resume that emphasizes the fit, and connects the dots effectively between the requirements and your qualifications can be an important tool to gaining interest. In particular, where you have very sought after, and difficult to find experience and skills, a resume where those skills jump off the page can have a tremendous impact.


When a great resume doesn’t do much good…
For most people, however, jobs they apply to are close to their experience, however, not an exact match. In those cases, a resume is very much a hit and miss proposition, regardless of how well it is written. When a recruiter or hiring manager reviews multiple resumes, they simply look for which ones seem to match the closest to the job requirements. A marginal fit, will not often get a call.


How networking minimizes the importance of a resume…
When a job isn’t an exact match to your experience, you’re not likely to get a call from sending in a resume. However, if you are talking to someone in the organization, or referred by a respected contact, the value you bring can be communicated even when the background isn’t perfect.

Ultimately, a hiring manager wants to hire the best person for the job and the organization, not just the best skills listed on a document. The best person may have some of the skills, however, bring a great deal of value in their communication skills, cultural fit, determination, ability to get things done, and other less tangible qualities that can’t be demonstrated well on paper.

When interest is raised through face to face communication, the resume simply becomes a tool to confirm what they already know about you. They want to see that your experience has been what you’ve told them it is, however, they are not determining their selection process based on the resume at that point. A basic document which simply shows your career history with responsibilities serves the purpose.


If you’ve read much about an effective job search at all, you certainly know that networking is, by far, the primary way that people find jobs. Focusing your time, effort, and attention to becoming a great networker will be far more fruitful than taking days or weeks to create a written masterpiece! Don’t take a good resume too lightly, however, certainly don’t value too highly what a great resume will do!


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The 20-Minute Networking Meeting

I’m not generally one to recommend books to job seekers very often. Mostly because I know that people will rarely read them. There is a great deal of valuable information online for free (including on this site!), and people usually don’t go spend the money.

This is one book, however, that I do highly recommend…

The 20-Minute Networking Meeting: How Little Meetings Can Lead To Your Next Big Job   by Marcia Bollinger

The book had been referred to me a few times over the course of a few months when it first came out, and I, like others, just never got around to it. Finally, after hearing it brought up enough times, I read it… and WOW!

Marcia Bollinger, a recruiter like myself, articulated what great networking should look like as well as I’ve ever heard. She illustrates through real-life stories what most people do wrong, and gives terrific instruction and examples of what could be done right!

Her style of writing is very easy to digest, and the book is a quick read. Most importantly, however, page after page I was agreeing with her about networking blunders and what a highly effective meeting can look like. It takes preparation, and a conscientious effort to stay on track, and on time. She describes each in great detail.

While there certainly is a lot of great information out there about networking, this book is a direct, concise, and spot-on tutorial on how to do it well.

I have no stake in this book, and get no compensation if you buy it… but The 20-Minute Networking Meeting is a book well worth reading if you want your networking efforts to be far more productive!


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Face-to-face networking works best

Colleagues shaking hands

Everyone likes being efficient. And most people feel somewhat awkward in meeting new people.

So, most people in a job search try to do their “networking” online and over the phone. It seems more efficient in being able to get to more people faster, and it’s less intimidating to send someone an email than to meet face-to-face.

Results, however, are FAR greater from those face-to-face meetings than countless phone calls and emails.

Do they take more time, effort and risk? Definitely. However, the potential outcomes far exceed the alternatives!

Contemplate these considerations…

You’ve got their attention!

There is no substitute for gaining someone’s full attention than to meet them face-to-face. Email responses are easy to procrastinate, and it’s easy to be distracted while on the phone. A meeting in-person, however, becomes more personal and requires more engagement. When they are fully engaged, it’s easier for things to pop to mind for them in your discussion. People, companies, ideas and recommendations come up that they would never have thought of from quickly reviewing an email or partially listening to a phone call.

You have an opportunity to make a better impression

In an email, they have no idea whether you make a professional personal impression or not. In a phone conversation, while you may sound professional, they have no idea whether you might be inclined to show up to a business meeting in a suit or in slippers and a robe. In a face-to-face meeting, they can see how you present yourself, and can gain a greater sense of confidence in referring you to their additional business acquaintances. Professionalism matters. People always make judgments that affect whether they are willing to refer you to others or not. The best way to create the right impression, is in-person.

You have more time

While a networking meeting should never take a great deal of time out of a person’s day, a 20 or 30 minute meeting is certainly likely to be longer than you would have their attention in an email or on the phone. The additional time can be used very effectively to learn more about them, allow them to understand your skills and objectives better, and think about ideas, advice and referrals.

Be deliberate

Be deliberate in seeking meetings, and be deliberate in how you run them. You are the one that asked for the meeting, so the burden is on you to run it efficiently. Don’t expect your contact to drive the conversation or know what you want. Be concise, be professional, be direct, and humbly ask for what you are seeking.

There are ample other materials about how to do an effective meeting. However, be sure to get as many meetings as you can!

There is no substitute for face-to-face networking meetings!


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Effective Thank You Notes

In a previous article titled:
Do Thank You Notes Really Matter???
I wrote about the big difference Thank You notes can make in the job search process. They can have great sway with a networking contact, a recruiter, or potential employer.

The degree of sway it has, however, has a lot to do with the likelihood it will be read. A note that isn’t read, has minimal impact. There is still a positive impression made, however, it’s not likely to make much more difference beyond that.

Adhering to a few concepts when crafting a note can greatly improve its effectiveness…



Brevity is a virtue!

As mentioned in multiple pieces I’ve written… Brevity is a virtue! Writing concisely, in “short-substantive soundbites”, makes for better cover letters, resumes, and thank you notes.

We live in an information-rich world. Business people in particular and bombarded daily with things to read… a seemingly endless stream of emails, letters, memo’s, news, and reports. Most business people quickly learn that it’s impossible to thoroughly read everything, so they decide what’s important, and what they can skim, or skip altogether.

When a new email, letter, card, or other form of written communication comes in they look at it and make a decision quickly. If it’s long, with big blocks of text, the likelihood that it will be read in any depth is infinitesimal. Unless it’s critical to the current work they are doing, they will likely do a very brief scan, and move on to their next message.

They’ll notice who it came from, and they’ll think well of the person that sent it. However… no matter how powerfully it was written, if it isn’t read, it has no impact!

If they look at the message and see that it’s a quick read, the likelihood of them reading it in its entirety increases dramatically. Brevity is a virtue!


Professionalism and conscientiousness matter

Even when a meeting or interview went exceptionally well, the conversation flowed easily, and things just seemed to click personally… the decision to refer someone to another professional contact, or to hire them, is still a business decision.

A Thank You note that is too assumptive about a relationship, too casual, or careless can do more harm than good.

Write the note with a professional tone and respect. Be very careful to write well. No mistakes, typo’s, or texting acronyms… “ROTFL” does not convey professionalism!

When a networking contact thinks about referring someone to another contact they know, or when an employer considers hiring someone, they think about whether the person will improve their own professional reputation or not. An overly informal or careless note can be deleterious!


Briefly accentuate one key qualification

Highlighting a particular skill, strength, or characteristic that is a critical requirement for the role is an effective way of reminding them of the value you bring. Rehashing a number of minor qualifications does little, to nothing, to confirm your fit. However, reminding them of a qualification that is at the heart of the need for the role goes a long way to solidify credibility!


What it looks like…

An example of an effective note, letter, or email may look something like:


Hello Bob, 
Thanks again for your time and consideration at our meeting today!

Thank you, also, for sharing details of the challenges you’ve been facing in the implementation of the new ERP system. We faced comparable challenges in gathering requirements from key stakeholders. In the process, I learned how to lead tighter meetings and put a greater focus on results while continuing to build strong working relationships.

The opportunity to put the skills I learned into practice in your organization is very appealing to me. I look forward to hearing from you and taking next steps soon! 
Regards,

Short, direct, and with one impactful selling point.

An effective Thank You note can have a wonderfully positive affect on your prospects of a job offer. Send them every time, and do them right!

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