David Muller is the Sr. Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Rapid7.
When you're networking for a job, don't just focus on your next career move – think longer term.
With hundreds of open jobs and talent scouts actively recruiting, both passive and active candidates in today's market have no shortage of options. This incredible talent demand can have huge benefits to your career, but if you aren't thoughtful about your approach to job seeking, you can adversely impact your future jobs searches in a large, unintended way.
Job seekers I speak with often share stories of being on the receiving end of countless LinkedIn messages, promises of huge salary ranges, amazing office perks, flexible work options and of the prospect of doing exciting work at amazing companies. How can that not sound appealing?! And yet, if you focus on those superficial (and yes, also important) elements, you'll often miss out on the bigger picture. Many people admit they rarely reflect on how their searches were planned, executed and nurtured. This concerns me. Boom times like today don't just offer opportunity for roles; they also provide the chance to build your job search infrastructure for the future. Let me explain.
Those of us who've been in the workforce through several downturns can tell you that even people with the most marketable skills will struggle when job supply is down. Usually those with the best networks get access to jobs, period. When I say “networks,” I am not speaking about the 2,500 virtually anonymous “connections" you have in various social media channels. I mean the networks you have invested in, spent time with, solicited and offered advice and feedback - the personal and professional relationships and connections you have nurtured.
I am not suggesting a downturn is coming. However, I am suggesting that how you approach the inquires made of you - starting today - can pay off in a big way down the line. Consider these three scenarios, in which maintaining a relationship can pay off down the line:
1. You interviewed with a hiring manager but chose not to pursue the role. The hiring manager you interviewed with could be hiring at a company for a role you do want down the road, OR could be someone you want to recruit yourself. Did you handle the interaction in a way that would make a future email or call seem natural?
2. An Agency Recruiter reached out multiple times. Did you thank them for their outreach, or just ignore the messages? This agency recruiter could be the lead recruiter at the next hot start up - are they going to consider you for a job or even return your call?
3. A former coworker reaches out for help in their search and asks for an informational interview with your boss. Do you blow them off or help facilitate? The shoe could be on the other foot down the road, so how would you want to be treated?
Now, I totally get that this goes both ways. There are likely examples of companies and talent scouts not owning their side of this equation by not following up with meaningful feedback (or any feedback at all). This represents a massive candidate experience fail that will have a substantive impact on future candidate flows…but that is an entirely separate discussion.
What I am saying is that a thoughtful, measured approach can set the tone for those you interact with and build a network of relationships that if nurtured, will grow stronger over time. And that's what will produce better career opportunities in the long run.