Tom Dolan, Associate Director of Texas Tech University at Abilene, takes 4 minutes to share valuable tips for targeted networking. Don’t just add names to your network. Know the decision-makers and get on their radar.

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Unemployment Lessons: TARGETED NETWORKING
Tom Dolan

Transcript of Jobs Solutions Audio Discussion

Upon being laid-off in 2002, I was extremely fortunate to make immediate contact with a mentor who led me through the wilderness of unemployment.  One of several valuable lessons he taught me was that of “targeted networking.”

Until my mentor shared this tip with me, I was running around filing resumes and searching frantically for a job. Then I learned the secret of effective career-related networking. The goal is not to simply add more names to your network, but rather to rub shoulders with and to be introduced to a “hiring manager.”  What is a hiring manager?  That’s the person who will manage you after you’re hired.  Remember this: people in the Human Resources (HR) department will accept your job application, review your resume, and maybe even conduct the initial interview. But, the hiring manager – not HR – will most likely make the final hiring decision. If you want a job someplace, get to know the hiring manager.

For example, if you want a job as third grade teacher in an elementary school, keep in mind that the school principal is the hiring manager.  You may interview with HR and with other administrators. But you will always have an interview with the principal, and the principal will always make the final decision. Now, put yourself in the shoes of the principal. Where does that unofficial list in her brain of people she wants to hire come from? I can almost guarantee the list does not come from HR. Her list of potential hires is made up of (1) the best substitute teachers and (2) teachers who come highly recommended by other principals. The trick is to GET ON THAT LIST. Although you may be required to go through the motions of getting on the HR list, it is critical to get on the principal’s unofficial list.

In my case, my experience was in higher education. After unexpectedly losing my seemingly secure job at Abilene Christian University, it seemed as if there were ZERO options for continuing in that field. But once my mentor shared the tip about targeted networking, my panic subsided and I put on my networking shoes.  I heard that Texas Tech University might be starting a satellite program in my town. I took purposeful steps to make certain I was on the lists of the Department chair, the Dean of the College of Engineering, and the Provost’s office.  I made sure the administrative assistants in those offices knew my name and voice. By the time they decided they needed someone like me, I had penetrated deep into their radar screen.

So how can YOU get on the hiring manager’s list?  Here are some ideas I’ve seen work for me and other people.

1. Volunteer. Sometimes you can volunteer for the agency or school itself. Sometimes you can find out where the hiring manager spends her volunteer time, and volunteer with that group.

2. Solicit assistance from friends. I was able to get to know hiring managers in the Texas Tech system through introductions by friends and by friends of friends.

3. Get on the radar. The truth is that even though many jobs require advertisement, most hiring managers only post a job once they are absolutely sure they personally know at least one qualified applicant.  And they usually end up hiring that person. Some researchers say 80% of all jobs in the U.S. are filled by individuals who were already on the radar screen of a hiring manager prior to the job posting.  YOU want to be in that top 80%.  Do whatever you can to get on the radar. Don’t be a stalker, but become a friend, a confidant, or a respected colleague. Take time to build a relationship so you are the person they think of when the job comes open.

4. Expand your options. It probably goes without saying that the more hiring managers you talk to, the quicker you’ll get a job. One technique that worked for me was to make connections with a hiring manager by asking for advice about some aspect of their agency or service, or soliciting their opinion about the future of their particular industry or area of expertise. I was careful not ask for a job at this point, but took time to develop a relationship by having a thoughtful conversation, asking their professional opinion and personal advice.

In summary, if you want a job, find out the name of real hiring managers and become a big blip on their radars.

I’m Tom Dolan. You can contact me via e-mail at Tom@Tom-Dolan.com I am the Associate Director of Texas Tech University at Abilene and a long-time technical advisor for companies, organizations, and individuals. Please feel free to comment on any aspect of this podcast, Unemployment Lessons: TARGETED NETWORKING. Just enter your ideas or questions in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the symposium text, or send an e-mail to economy@musictherapy.org.

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