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Networking Through a Downturn

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

As a recruiter and career coach, I am asked every day by job seekers, “how do I get the attention of a hiring manager?” or “what can I do to stand out in a sea of candidates?”. The answer today is the same answer it’s been for years: make human contact. And how do you do that? By networking.

Our current global situation however, has certainly made this prospect more challenging. I think most people have pictures in their head about what networking looks like. They think it means standing in a room full of strangers and having to cut in to an established conversation to give your elevator pitch. Or sitting at a table with white tablecloths, and shaking hands with 7 others while they attempt to eat their dry chicken. Sadly, the days of rooms-full of people and tables of 8 are on hold for the foreseeable future.

So, now what?

Luckily, “networking” does not have to take that form. Most people have a more robust network than they think and networking doesn’t have to be about asking strangers to help you. Networking is about RELATIONSHIPS.

So, now is the time for building relationships. Reconnecting with old friends, calling old colleagues and softball teammates and bookclub buddies and gymmates. Pick up the phone and see how people are doing. Call them with a heart of compassion and empathy and rekindle old bonds. Ask them about their families and their health and their jobs. You’d be surprised how impactful a sincere approach can be.

It’s important to note that right now, with our depressed economy, many people don’t have a lot to give- and this is daunting, especially for people who want to. So, don’t ask for anything! Make the your purpose of your call connection.

Fortunately, the inevitable will occur: the person on the other end of the phone will return the favor and ask about you. Now’s your opportunity!

Express your current situation. Ask for help- in whatever fashion that may be: do you know any good recruiters I should reach out to? do you have any insight about how to write a good resume? Are you aware of any networking events?

And be prepared to answer those same questions yourself so that if you connect with someone in the same unfortunately circumstance, you can be a resource for them.

Before I wrap up this blog, it’s important to be clear about what “asking for help” looks like in the real world. Unfortunately, many people think that simply telling others that they are in the market for a new role constitutes soliciting help and I’m afraid it just doesn’t work that way.

You’d be shocked to learn how many people think they might offend by offering assistance and will go home thinking “Bill will ask me for help if he needs it”.

So a simple call to action is often necessary- something as simple as “if you hear of any relevant openings at your firm, I would appreciate a referral” or “do you know a good recruiter I could reach out to?”. [I also wrote a blog on this topic called “Job Hunting and the Paradox of Choice” that speaks more to proper execution of asking for help. Check it out!]

Now, get out there and make some phone calls!

If you have a specific question about your job search, send us an email to asktherecruiter@infinitalent.net.

Yael Iffergan is Founder and Managing Director of INFINITalent Partners, LLC, a full service, recruitment firm, offering third party contingency search services along with career coaching. Yael has spent the last 15 years in recruiting and has literally placed or helped thousands of candidates at all levels and professions. She has also helped leaders at all levels of organizations (both large and small, public and private) make hiring decisions as a trusted partner and advocate.

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