It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

A young person graduating with an MPA approached me with a question about getting a job once she graduates. As we discussed her situation it became clear that it’s not only young job seekers, but everyone at every stage in their career, who might want to follow this advice. Our job seeker was fearful that the job market is really tough and the only people who seem to be getting jobs are those who “know people.”  In other words, “It’s not what you know, it’s who.”

And she’s right. Sort of. I believe that if you are spending more than 10% of your job seeking time working on your resume (or cover letter) you are spending too much time at it. Resumes don’t get jobs, interviews get you jobs. So, sure, write a simple, chronological resume but start your search by putting together a list of everyone you know who may be an “influencer” or in a position to either make you an offer or introduce you to someone who can. For the young job seeker, this was clearly not her strong suit. So it was easier to spend time on the resume. If you are like her, you are not in your comfort zone.

But remember, the best way, the only way, is through networking. So, one “informational interview” leads to two which leads to four, and, you get the idea.

Research the person you are about to meet before the meeting and have a few pithy questions at the ready.

And don’t forget to follow up! Thank you notes to each, reminders of what you discussed, and, when you do land that job, a note to everyone who helped you along the way, thanking them and letting them know where you landed.  Don’t forget, you need to be planning your next job move!

James Abruzzo, Consultant, Consulting, Executive Search, Nonprofit Compensation, Expert Witness, Who You Know, Who You Know

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