Kraig* was a diligent intern who worked extra hours, and for employees beyond his assigned department, so he could learn more about the company he hoped to one day work for. Spreading himself so thin didn’t get him known by key individuals, however.
When it came time for him to request recommendations for a position, people were polite, but it was clear that there were no resounding votes in his favor that led to actual employment at the company. Nobody could point to anything specific – from start to finish – and describe projects that Kraig had completed for them . . . only pieces that he had “helped with.”
At first, Kraig felt betrayed. Then, he regretted not joining this or that group of people for lunch when invited, or attending a committee meeting when he actually could have. He came to realize that had he narrowed his scope better, he could have spent more time committed to fewer projects and become more invested – and better known – by a select group of people. These key people probably would have come to know and admire his talents better, and his resume would have reflected more substantive projects, instead of multiple “assisted with ___” bullet points that he now had listed.
Kraig and I worked on his resume and interviewing skills, and when he did get hired by another employer, he made a point to Fix It! at his next position by getting involved with specific groups of people and committees that were related to his career interests, but took care not to over-extend himself as he had before.
With his new position, Kraig was looking ahead and thinking about his next career goals and how he might get there via networking, mentoring and pursuing his specific career niche.
Lorraine* had accepted a sales position managing a geographic territory, and was pleased to be starting soon. It meant moving, but she was willing and able to make the move, and the company was paying for her moving expenses.
When the offer letter arrived, she was displeased to see terms that the district manager hadn’t discussed when making the offer on the phone: a probationary period of 80% of the agreed upon salary for the first 90 days. She found this to be distasteful, unacceptable, and a bit underhanded, since it hadn’t been discussed at all verbally, when the offer was made and agreed to on the phone. Speaking to the district manager got no favorable results, and Lorraine contacted his supervisor, to protest starting at a salary lower than the agreed upon terms.
She was pleased to receive a new offer letter shortly thereafter, with the full starting salary originally discussed, and signed it. Later, she had begun making arrangements to relocate, she contacted her manager to inquire about how to bill the company for the moving expenses, to which he responded, “Oh, you don’t get moving expenses.”
To Lorraine’s dismay, she discovered that this item had been removed from the revised written agreement, once she got her full salary reinstated! She – again – contacted her manager’s supervisor, but this time, he didn’t back her up. All he would say is, “Does this affect your coming to work for us?”
“I wish I had said, ‘Yes!’ but I didn’t, and I capitulated,” Lorraine recounts. “I ended up paying all of my own moving expenses!”
After a year on the job, Lorraine learned that this was just one of many examples of poor treatment by the company of their sales staff – and she saw more than 100% turnover of the district reps in her entire state!
“They treated us like indentured servants, constantly reminding us how lucky we were to even have jobs,” Lorraine recounts. “It was as though they’d take a staff member and toss them on the griddle, singe them until they couldn’t take it anymore, and then – pssssss! – toss another one on, as though they had an endless supply of victims.”
When Lorraine finally decided to Forget It! we had a longer and more difficult job search for her because she had left most of her contacts behind in her previous city, and hadn’t taken the time to network and make new relationships in her current home.
Networking involves time, effort and research, as well as sincerity when done properly. While some will view it as a headcount contest or race to see who wins, the real value emerges when you can forge meaningful connections with people. You won’t always be on the receiving end, and sometimes you can give back, but being known as a person who can connect others is a good thing, too.
A good analogy for networking is planting seeds in a garden: some will take root and flourish, while others won’t – and even those that do, need nurturing and it will take quite a bit of time before they fully mature. They don’t typically require a great deal of attention, but do need regular upkeep.
What time have you spent this week to tend to your network(s), so that they will continue to thrive?
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
— Rita Mae Brown