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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Outplacement Firms Tell You About Networking Can Be Wrong

Outplacement firms are become some of the worst offenders when it comes to detrimental advice about networking and leveraging contacts. It is because of their often misguided advice that I have been forced to place outplacement agencies on my s– list. They tell candidates to handle their own search: network and build contacts – 2 B a LION on LinkedIn. Let’s be real, I don’t want to know EVERYONE. It’s just because … um, let me think here … – I like relevance in my life! Relevance in a job search process is crucial. As mentioned in my last blog, be sure you really know who you are networking with. Networking is not for the socially inept and it is not for everyone. Sorry, but some people can really screw it up and I have the war stories to prove it.

Lately, the outplacement firms have been telling candidates: don’t bother with recruiting firms because they can’t find you a job a job. Give me a break! It’s foolish advice like this that can cost people a job and valuable time. Some candidates are not skilled at negotiating for themselves nor are they skilled interviewers My candidate, who I had placed twice in the past 15 years called me after looking on her own for three months because she actually believed their fresh new perspective on finding a job. Turns out that I have had a job she fits. I secured her an interview within five days of our initial conversation. I’m also working on another search for her. My candidate is a sharp individual with a great skill set, but the outplacement “professionals” (sometimes I think that phrase is an oxymoron) made her feel like her only lifesaver was to network her Jimmy Choos off.

Outplacement firms call themselves partners to executive recruiters. We go into their offices for free and talk to their clients (many of whom are still in shock) about job searching and do seminars and then they marginalize us. Since the mid 1980's recruitment firms have been responsible for roughly 15% of the placements that occur in the US Employee referrals account for the largest segment – but that happens only when the candidate has had previous experience with an internal colleague. Come on people -- the world is getting smaller thanks to the Internet, but stop being presumptuous. Referrals are based on trust, respect, and knowledge; not on casual impersonal connections. If the closest someone has gotten to you is a thumbnail photo, I wouldn’t place my future in that basket.

Connect with people, but do it for the right reasons and be genuine. And don’t ignore the obvious choices of who to reach out to. If an executive recruiter placed you once, then he or she should be one of the first people you contact. You’ve already proven yourself, so it’s easier for us to market you to our clients. At the end of the day, that’s what all this networking is really about – finding people who don’t just know you, but believe in you.

Want to talk about it? Lets go -- I’d love to hear your thoughts about networking and what the outplacement firms are telling you.

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