What’s the SINGLE-BEST Way to Get Your Resume to a Human?

Network.

A few weeks ago, I shared an article from The Muse about gaming the system; that is, the applicant tracking system that seemingly sends your resume into a black hole. The article provides useful information, and, it got me to thinking about some recent stories I’ve come across where people used networking very successfully with very little effort. Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Let me start by saying that I don’t really like networking. At least, not in the typical ways we may think about it. Loud rooms full of strangers smiling too brightly reciting their 30-second “elevator pitches.”

Ugh.

But.

Using your network WORKS. And it doesn't have to hard.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a post on LinkedIn by Nick Black, and want to share the short version, even though my message is different from his original message. He begins his post, “I bombed my GMAT test.”

You don’t see people admit this every day (score one for honesty and vulnerability--the post went viral). He goes on to explain why he bombed it—lack of sleep from a week of chasing the Taliban. When he applied to business schools, none of the universities cared. All they saw was his score. And he got rejected.

The chaplain of his unit told him about a professor at UNC who was always sending them food and suggested maybe he could help. Black emailed the professor, a complete stranger, and the professor personally submitted Black's application. He was interviewed by the admissions counselor and got in to UNC, and then went on to achieve great distinction. Check out the whole post (prepare to scroll a bit).

His message was that sometimes you should take a chance on the person who doesn’t look good on paper. I completely agree, but the message I want to give is a little different.

All he did was reach out by email to a stranger who had a common interest. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help when they have something in common with you. In this case, the professor supported the troops. That was the extent of their “connection.” They didn’t have to be best friends and they didn’t have to meet over drinks like it was an awkward blind date or in a crowded room with 500 other people. With minimal effort (one email?!) and a whole lot of honesty, he made his dream happen.

Who could you reach out to that you've been avoiding because it might feel awkward for about 10 seconds?

Over 50 Doesn't Mean Have to Mean Over the Hill.

The next example may resonate even more, especially since, as I was editing, I saw that IBM is being sued for age discrimination.

A friend of mine is over 50 (!!) and has been out of the work force for 10 years, give or take. When he and his family moved to Portland, he became a stay-at-home dad.

He has never worked in Portland. He has no professional connections here. His wife’s profession is completely unrelated to what he does. He used to have some connections back in Baltimore, but…that company went out of business and people have scattered.

Yet, there’s this one guy he’s stayed in touch with over the years who now lives in North Carolina. A couple months ago, this friend happened to have lunch with the son of someone who they worked for 15 (?) years ago ... Anyway, it turns out that the son needs a guy just like my friend here, and he needs him here in Portland.

Boom.

A couple chats. No resume. No applicant tracking systems to game. Just some honest conversations.

This is how networking works. It doesn’t have to be a circus. Or painful.

Just let people know what you want.

Who is someone you enjoyed working with in the past but haven’t spoken to in awhile? Reach out. See what happens. You just might get a pleasant surprise.

Of course, it is not always this easy. Doing a good job wherever you are

is the first step to a strong network.

If networking makes you sick to your stomach and you want to find a better way, shoot me an email and we can set up a complimentary session. Don't let FON (fear of networking) hold you back.

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Portland, OR

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