It is estimated that 60-80% of positions are filled through referrals. Many of these positions are not listed on job sites or assigned to search firms. Given the 60-80%, networking has become the cornerstone for many individuals who are searching for a job. One of the rituals of networking encounters is providing a resume to get referrals. Is there a better way?
Quite often, resumes have a very short life in holding the interest of a contact and his/her efforts to assist a job seeker. Why? Resumes contain a lot of information that contacts do not need to help the job seeker. And, there are so many individuals networking to connect to job opportunities. Contacts can be swamped with requests for assistance from job seekers. Even the most cooperative and willing contact can find it difficult to help job seekers who approach them. They have other demands on their time, especially performing their job responsibilities to ensure that they do not become job seekers.
So, you want a contact to help you and the contact needs information that will enable him/her to assist you with your job search. How can you provide enough, but not too much information? How can you make it easy for someone to help you?
I recommend that job seekers develop a Personal Summary to provide information that is essential for contacts to assist them. The Personal Summary is a one-page document that serves as a personal selling aid for job seekers. When you are searching for a job, you are engaged in a very significant sales campaign, selling you.
A personal summary includes the following components:
- Career Summary
- Career Highlights
- Opportunities You Are Seeking
- Assistance You Need
- Your Contact Information
Career Summary states the value you offer, the problems you can solve or the needs you can satisfy for an employer. It also states what makes you unique, what distinguishes you from others seeking similiar opportunities.
Career Highlights are 3-5 of your signature career accomplishments, accomplishments that quickly come to your mind or people with whom you have worked when your name is mentioned. Accomplishments should express what you did, the benefits the organization or company realized, and actions you took to generate the benefits.
Think like a defense attorney. Your Career Summary is the opening statement. (My client is innocent.) Career Highlights are the evidence. (These are the facts that prove my client’s innocence.)
Opportunities You Are Seeking are situations that call for what you can do, the value you stated in your Career Summary. Think of opportunities as triggers – events, developments, or courses of action that can create the need for you.
Assistance You Need should express how the contact can help you. Consider 3 targets or paths to situations you are seeking. Individuals who:
- Are experiencing the problem or need.
- Are knowledgeable of the problem or are connected to individuals who are experiencing the problem.
- Serve or support individuals who are experiencing the problem. This could include consultants, vendors, service providers, and salespersons.
Contact Information should include your email address, telephone numbers (land and mobile), and home address.
It is a human tendency for people to want to help others. Using a Personal Summary makes it easy to help you. It can place you at the top of the list of people who have approached a contact for assistance, above others who are providing resumes.
How successful is your networking in terms of generating referrals to opportunities or to others who may be able to assist you?
How many resumes have you given to individuals and received no response or evidence that the person is assisting you?
How many contacts have referred you to opportunities for which you are not interested or qualified?
How many times have you followed up with a contact and the contact cannot remember what types of opportunities or referrals you are seeking?
Are you frustrated with networking and have decided to focus your job search on using search firms and responding to job postings (20-40% of positions that are filled as opposed to 60-80% through referrals)?