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Ask the Headhunter: I can’t network for a job! It’s too awkward!

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


Question: I was the one that asked the question you answered in a column on your blog: “Do you discriminate against employers? You should.” Thanks for your advice about meeting people and making personal contacts to get a job. It makes sense… except when you don’t have friends! LOL! Besides, it’s awkward!

Nick Corcodilos: I know — it’s awkward to meet people to get a job. (It makes you cringe, right?) You’re in good company. And everybody in that company is wrong.

When I bring up making new personal contacts, everyone likes to excuse themselves by saying they just don’t have professional contacts, their old work buddies are long gone, no one can help them.

My answer is: bunk.

It’s an excuse, my friend. We all learn to be lazy, because we feel awkward reaching out to new people. You have to get over it.

Meeting people, making contacts, making new friends and talking shop is a skill. You learn it and practice it. (Please see “I don’t know anybody.”) If you don’t practice this important skill, you lose — and the job boards and online applications will not be your automated substitute for the 40 to 70 percent of jobs that are filled via personal contacts.

READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: I was fired for being late. What should I tell new employers?

If you quietly fill out online job applications, you’re at the mercy of HR departments that process database records all day long while you wait for them to contact you. You already know that doesn’t work, so why do you keep pretending it will?

The only alternative is the one that has worked for centuries:

Personal contacts: Go talk to people.

Meeting people to get introduced to hiring managers and new job opportunities makes sense. You know it does — but you just don’t want to think about it. I know it’s awkward for many people. So go into your bathroom, lock the door, look in the mirror. Smile at yourself for a few seconds, then scream at yourself:

“PRETENDING A DATABASE IS GONNA FIND ME A JOB IS BUNK! I KNOW BETTER!”

And you do.

Diddling the keyboard to find a job makes no sense at all — except to “job services” like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Monster and every other job board. Their entire business model is based on you not finding a job, and on you returning again and again to the digital swill pot for a drink. (See “Reductionist Recruiting: A short history of why you can’t get hired.”)

READ MORE: Ask The Headhunter: Take the ickiness out of job networking

Those companies make more money when you can’t find a job and when employers can’t fill jobs. That’s how the employment industry works. It’s not how people get hired.

I’m not beating you up, just shaking you a bit. Please listen.

Dear Readers: Do you pretend “the system” is going to get you a job if you just keep applying online? Or do you do it the old-fashioned way, and go out to meet people?


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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