You Never Know Who People Know

men-talkingHow many of us have said to ourselves something like, “He’s not high enough up the corporate ladder to be connected to anyone I want to meet.”? Fortunately for Harry Robertson, he did not take this approach when another parent struck up a conversation at their children’s baseball game. It turned out that Robertson was sitting next to a mid-level manager in a publishing company who was friends with a director in a medical devices company looking to fill their vacant CEO position. Talk about a networking jackpot!

Robertson couldn’t believe his luck. He’d always heard to never ignore anyone in his network, but he never actually thought idle small talk with the father of one of his son’s baseball opponents counted as networking or could turn into anything serious. Robertson now understands that networking is successful when one does not have a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. A friendly chat on bleachers next to a baseball field opened the door to an exciting opportunity. He is now president and CEO of that director’s company. “You never can tell who will be a valuable source,” Robertson says.

Niche Companies are a Good Way to Go
The larger companies have great appeal, but they also are on everyone else’s target list. The smaller companies are not known by every job seeker in the industry and frequently make hiring decisions more quickly because there are fewer people in upper management. “The smaller and more niche-oriented a company is the better. They usually have more needs for great executive talent with experience in their particular niche,” says Robertson.

A Surprising Marketplace
Despite feeling well prepared when he began his search, several aspects of the executive marketplace surprised Robertson. “The executive marketplace is really tough, and it takes much longer than what most people expect to land the right opportunity,” says Robertson of his six-month-long search. “It’s a sign of the times.”

He tried the Internet listings, but discovered few viable positions at his level in his industry. “Several online postings, even through reputable sites, did not tell the whole story, and often what is posted is short of the facts,” says Robertson. It is important to double check and validate the quality and seriousness of listings. An ExecuNet survey found that only 10 percent of job-seeking executives think their application reaches a decision-maker when they respond to a job listed on a company website. It is better to use one’s network to reach a decision-maker, thereby ensuring the position really exists and that you will be granted true consideration.

Robertson didn’t have any existing connections with recruiters, so he had little luck with them either. “Executive recruiters work on behalf of their client companies. They will ignore candidates if they have no assignment on their books to match the candidate’s qualifications,” reports Robertson. Though he found the lack of response from recruiters disappointing, he knew it wasn’t their job to find him a job.

Robertson encourages job seekers to stay upbeat and to take every opportunity to network. He believes in networking every day and now makes it something he does several times a week, even though he’s no longer in job search. Your next conversation could lead to the opportunity of a lifetime!

William Flamme

William Flamme

William Flamme is ExecuNet's Marketing Content Manager, where he is responsible for developing engaging career, job search, and leadership insight and delivering executive-level content across the various properties under the ExecuNet brand. Prior to joining ExecuNet in 2008, Will earned a master's degree in education and taught fifth grade and sixth grade. As a teacher, he deepened his appreciation for the written word and mastered skills necessary for managing writers who sometimes view deadlines as homework.

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