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Networking doesn’t work for MY job search!

It’s not unusual for people to tell me that their situation is different than others, and networking doesn’t work for them.

Usually, it’s after they tried to connect with someone, or they reached out to someone that they found on LinkedIn and it produced no leads, referrals, or insight.

More often than not, it has more to do with HOW they try networking than whether networking works or not.

I heard a voicemail recently that was intended as a networking call to reach out to someone in the hopes of getting referrals. Unfortunately, it was a disaster. The message lasted over 2 minutes, the person rambled, repeated themselves, had no point to the message, and almost forgot to leave their phone number. It’s highly unlikely that they get many, if any, returned phone calls. It’s even more unlikely that they get any referrals or leads… not many people that receive a message like that would feel comfortable inflicting the caller on one of their acquaintances.

The caller probably believes that “networking” for a job search is way over-rated since it doesn’t seem to work for them.

Similarly, others run into friends or acquaintances at a mall or grocery store and ramble endlessly about their job loss and difficulties in finding a new job, and then are surprised when even friends don’t seem to be willing to share names and job leads.

They soon decide that their circumstances must be different, and networking doesn’t work in their situation, and they quit trying.

It’s not the concept of networking that’s the problem, but rather how they do it!

Preparation is key!

Know what you’re going to say! - Write scripts… for a conversation, and another one for the inevitable voicemails.

Brevity is a virtue! - Don’t ramble, be concise, get to the point.

Be direct! - State your objective soon and without fluff.

Practice! – The presentation improves with repetition.

Try and try again! – Nothing works every time. The more often you do it, the more likely you are to see results.


Don’t decide that networking doesn’t work for you! Find ways to improve until it works!


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Explaining a Bad Experience


Occasionally I hear from a job seeker that came out of a truly bad experience at their last employer. They either left or were let go through no fault of their own, but really were victims in the process.

The difficulty for them is to find a way to describe it to a new potential employer without sounding they are bashing the old one!

I met a woman who truly was victimized in her previous job. She was harassed, she was the subject of screaming and verbal abuse, and she was fired without warning because she resisted advances.

Other than the abuse by the owner, she loved her job and the people she worked with. She doesn’t want the stigma of suing her employer, and only wants to move on to a new opportunity. However, she finds it difficult to explain her situation without creating a series of awkward questions and doubt about what happened.

It is a challenge!

There are no easy solutions for that or similar situations. However, as with other questions that involved being fired, a direct, brief answer, followed by a question that directs the conversation in another direction is most likely to be effective.

In the case of the woman that was victimized, she may say something like…

While I very much enjoyed working with my co-workers, and was effective in my role, there were instances of inappropriateness and values opposed to mine from the owner that lead to my being let go recently. I am looking forward to a new opportunity to learn, and develop new experiences. Can you give me a better idea what areas this position would primarily focus on in the first few months?”

It’s short and direct. It points to the problem without trashing the employer with a great deal of detail. It indicates a positive outlook for a new opportunity, and asks a question to send the discussion in a new direction.

There is no answer that will work every time. However, using a formula like this is most likely to provide the best results.

If you’ve had a bad experience that will need to be addressed in an interview, create an explanation that can be brief, optimistic, and send the conversation down a new path!


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