HR professional and recruiter, Rich Jones (@iamrichjones), writes in Ebony this morning that even with a spotless resume there’s always going to be a group ahead of you who have gone the extra step. The networkers.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is more than a poignant cliché, especially in today’s market. A good number of the people interviewing for the job you know you’re qualified for found a way to “warm up” their application. And if they don’t land this job, there will be other interviews because they already have people selling for them—if even just a few words. It could be as simple as “This person has been active on our Facebook page,” or “I’ve engaged with this person on Facebook/Twitter. Their application is worth taking a looking at.”
Jones says it’s not networking at job fairs and the like, candidates have social media platforms to use for networking. If you’re not taking advantage of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, you’re not maximizing your networking efforts, per Jones.
Law students and law grads would be well served to read Jones article in full. His tips, inspiration, and soft kick in the rear would serve you well. Me too – at age 57.
Here’s some excerpts of Jone’s insight with a little annotation from me.
- Effective networking on LinkedIn is more than sending out invites. It’s about joining groups, engaging in conversation and reaching out to people with relevant backgrounds and saying, “I checked out your page and was impressed with your background. I’m also in X field and would love to have you in my network.”
- Take it a step further and ask to meet people for a cup of coffee. Reach high and ask to meet people you’d give your right arm to meet. Don’t be asking for a job when you meet. Ask them for ideas and advice on how to go about getting the job you’d love to have. Be smart in who you ask so you’re always asking to meet with those you’d love to work with.
- You’ll be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t have a Twitter presence. There’s a real person behind the Twitter account who you can engage with, whether it’s asking questions or saying “Hey, I love what you guys do!” You never know how close that person sits to human resources.
- Twitter is also an opportunity to find and engage with people working in your desired field. Once you’ve built a rapport with people, it’s much easier to engage the people you’ve met about who is looking, what they’re looking for, and who has insight on who can help you.
- You can follow a brand’s page and post comments. You never know who’s behind the account or watching fan engagement. Recruiters are more frequently tapping into their company’s social media fan base to find great applicants. In the case of law firms, whose Facebook pages get little interaction from the public, your engagement can shine and be talked about inside the law firm.
- If you’ve grown a network of professionals on Facebook, you can post a comprehensive status update about what you’re looking for. If you’ve been positive in your messages and offered help to others (also part of networking), you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to reciprocate.
Networking on social media means more than engaging just potential employers, it also means building a mini-army of people who become your evangelists. They’ll be on the look out for opportunities on your behalf and be willing to lend a hand where they can. Even dropping one of their colleagues a not recommending that they ought to talk with you — or maybe even hire.
I’ve met a few law students who are out pressing the flesh by networking through the Internet, but they seem to be few and far and between. If you get out and and leverage social media, you’re apt to pick up a lot of fans (in the real sense). You’re certainly going to move ahead of others who have stronger resumes, but who are relying on the letter and resume approach.
Is it scary to do this stuff? Sure. But it’s scary to practice law. Lawyers and law firms worth their salt will be impressed by law grads and law students who push themselves to go outside their comfort zone.
I’m in total agreement with Jones. “If you’re not taking advantage of these tools, you’re not maximizing your networking efforts.”