Last Monday, I read a post on Career Rocketeer that talked about some appropriate ways in which to network with others. The following phrase jumped off the page at me:
“When approaching a new networking partner, DON’T ask for a job. This is about the worst thing you can do. Networking partners want to be helpful but if you ask for a job the likelihood is that they will not have one for you that matches your skills and qualifications. Thus, the networking partner will not engage you because they don’t want to disappoint you.”
I’d have to say that as a recruiting professional, I completely agree with this. While yes, it is my job to find people for our open positions at AT&T, I am neither a mind-reader nor a magician. Even though I want to help, I can’t magically pull opportunities out of you-know-where just because you need a job, nor can I know what your skills are via ESP.
If you’re reading this thinking, “But I really need a job! What’s wrong with doing that?” take a look at a couple of follow-up responses I received when I tweeted the first part of that paragraph:
@danieljohnsonjr: It’s almost like asking to go to a hotel room on the first date.
@brandeecrum: it’s like going on a 1st date and the guy saying, “I thought we’d skip dinner & the movie and just go get married.”
Consider this scenario: we both attend a networking event. We are introduced, and you learn that I work with AT&T in a staffing capacity. Since you’ve recently found yourself back on the job market, you’re excited by this and immediately let me know that you need a job. You ask me if we’re hiring….
STOP. Take into consideration the information with which you’ve just provided me. You are 1) looking for a job, and 2)….. well, that’s pretty much all I know about you at this point. I don’t know how many years of experience you have, I don’t know what you did in your last position, I probably don’t even know who your last employer was. So it’s pretty near impossible that I’ll be able to give you a response that will be to your liking until I know a little more about you. I of course can, and probably will, ask you what you want to do, but the conversation has already become quite awkward…
Put this into a situation where you’re on a date…
You meet your date at the door. You introduce yourselves, and immediately your date starts telling you how she is ready to get married, buy a house, and have kids. She hasn’t even checked with you to see if you think she is pretty, if you want a serious relationship or if you want to take things slowly, heck – you haven’t even made it through date #1 to see if there will be a date #2.
So many people have made this analogy, that job hunting is like dating. When you go out on a first date, you don’t offer up a hotel room key when you first meet. (and if you do, well then… wow…) You don’t make a marriage proposal at the end of the evening, either. You don’t want to appear desperate – you want to leave something to be desired. Most recruiters enjoy the thrill of the hunt – so let us pursue you
REWIND: Let’s try this again. We both attend a networking event. We are introduced and you learn that I work with AT&T in a staffing capacity. You share with me that in your most recent position you were an online marketing manager. When I ask you where you are currently, you indicate that you are in transition, and that you are here to meet like-minded individuals and that you’re glad we met. You say you’ve heard good things about AT&T’s digital marketing. I smile and thank you for the compliment. We exchange cards and move on to meet more people. In the back of my mind, I remember you because you were not desperate and you paid my employer a compliment. As a good recruiting professional, I will follow up with you and ask if you’d be interested in applying with us.
Please, use the same networking etiquette with recruiters as you to with others. We’re not always going to have a job for you, and we feel bad when we don’t. Be tactful about your approach, and leave something to be desired. Make yourself memorable in a good way!
**ADD-ON: Recruiters, the desperation door swings both ways. Don’t be that desperate recruiter preying on everyone at a networking event. This scenario applies to you too