February 28, 2011
If we have something in common, I might hire you
Last week, three of my clients found full-time employment. The key for them was reaching out to people (via LinkedIn) with whom they had something in common -- they had either gone to the same school or worked for the same company previously.
One client relocated to Seattle when her husband was transferred to our area. She didn't know anyone here or know where to start. After we spoke, she decided to search for others locally who had gone to the same East Coast school she did; we narrowed down the search results to find those who were working in the legal field. She then reached out to these people and set up informational coffee meetings telling them she was new in town and didn't know where to start. One of those meetings turned into an employment offer.
In another instance, a client of mine searched for fellow Starbucks alumni who had worked in construction and architecture. A number of those employees were laid off when Starbucks cut back on expansions due to the poor economy. Though he had never met these former colleagues previously, he started networking with them and the fact that they had something in common brought them together. One of those architects got a job at Lululemon and asked my client if he was also interested in joining the project.
Finally, another client took advice from one of my workshops to make contacts outside his normal networking sphere. He tracked down a former executive from his previous company. He told this executive that he had admired his accomplishments and that he would like to connect and learn from the executive's expertise. To his surprise, the person was flattered and decided to sit down with my client, and they really hit it off because they had so much to talk about. The executive then told my client that one of his colleagues was looking for an operations project manager and that he should send in his resume to the hiring manager. That meeting turned into an interview and later into a job offer.
When you share a connection with someone, you sort of become friends. I remember when I was in Italy, every American wanted to either have coffee or go to a museum together because we shared our country of origin. In the job-hunting world, personal connections from previous employers or schools offer great potential because there's a high likelihood you'll get a favorable response to networking requests, as opposed to cold calling strangers.
Have you tried this method before? What kinds of successes have you found?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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