Don’t Burn the “In”

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The best way to land a job these days is to network relentlessly and use every resource possible to reach key decision makers. If you are fortunate enough to have a contact who works inside the organization you are targeting it can make life a lot easier. Yet, there are some key steps to remember so you don’t burn your inside contact.

We’ve all heard the catch phrase, “it’s not what you know, but it’s who you know.” Having a contact on the inside can do wonders during this critical era of job searching. Many employers are more hesitant than ever to post their job openings as they have done in the past. Some feel as though they will become inundated with applicants, while others are more inclined to spread word of their openings by word of mouth; this is due to the fact that they might find better candidates using their own employees as conduits.

However, soliciting the blessing of contacts already on the inside can sometimes become a very tricky proposition because they may have had a bad experience. I was speaking with someone at a recent hiring event who told me that he would never recommend someone for a position inside his organization again after recently being “burned.” He assisted someone who he knew for many years to land an interview with the supervisor from his unit. The person was subsequently hired and immediately began to undermine the efforts of the entire management team, resulting in a period of turbulence for everyone involved. Ultimately, the person was dismissed, but not after filing a grievance against the company for unfair termination.

So, if you’re going to ask someone for help landing a spot in their organization, here are some steps you can take to help make the situation a win-win for everyone.

Never ask for too much. Don’t be demanding when asking for help. Respect the fact that the person you are asking for help is doing you a favor, even if they might be rewarded for a referral stipend.

Make sure this is a position you covet. Don’t push for a position if you have no intention of sticking with it. Remember that the person who recommended you could be held accountable for their recommendation of you. Companies invest considerable time and resources to train new employees.

Do your homework. Take responsibility for your own job search, and don’t expect your contact to do your work you. If your contact is willing, ask for information about the culture of the office and other tips to help give yourself a leg up on the competition. Ask if you can send over your resume for feedback, or possibly meet you for lunch (your treat) to pick his or her brain.

Always be thankful. Don’t forget to show appreciation to anyone who is willing to go the extra mile to assist with your job search; even if you don’t get an offer after being recommended for the position. Now that you have become acquainted with the hiring managers, another opportunity with that same company could be just around the corner.

In the world of sports, it’s often the forgotten free agents who might receive a last minute recommendation from either a coach or general manager, make the roster, and ultimately become the missing piece to a championship team.

Always remember to keep your head in the game, and good luck with your job search.

Wil Smith is a Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. Wil has collected over 20 years of expertise in the areas of Corporate Training & Development, Recruitment and Operational Management; with the majority of that time working with a Fortune 500 Corporation. He has also worked in the Sports/ News industry as a Reporter and Broadcaster.


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