Give Yourself a Performance Review – How Well Are You Networking in Your Job Search?

Ahhh… the performance review…

Raise your hand if you just had that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach just because I mentioned it?

Yeah… me too… but they do serve a useful purpose.

When performance reviews are done correctly, they can provide useful insight into what you’ve done correctly over the year, and what you could do better.

So let’s apply that concept to your job search.

A job search can be broken down to 4 basic components: Networking, Looking for Jobs, Resumes and Interviewing. Really, that’s about it.

What I’m doing over the next few weeks is presenting tips on how to break down each step of the process and identify what you’ve been doing well, and where you can close some gaps to improve your performance.

Let’s start with Networking. What have you been doing to get out and meet more people, either in person or online?

Yes, I know you’re shy and you don’t like to meet new people, and you’ve always been that way, but…

Your friends like you, your co-workers liked you, so why wouldn’t new people like you? Don’t think of it like networking, just think of it like making new friends.

Are you getting out of the house enough? Start by putting yourself in situations where people are open to meeting, so association meetings, Chamber of Commerce, Toastmaster’s Club (a great place to improve your public speaking). It’s best to look for things where hiring managers, HR people or recruiters are expected to be, but how about a free class at a local craft store or attending a lecture at the library? Even check out the opportunities on Meetup.com – I attended a group for people who like to play board games a few days ago. This was a completely different group of people than I had ever met before, and it didn’t cost me anything.

You don’t have to tell everyone your life’s story, I think attending consistently and connecting with a few people are key. But be open and friendly. Don’t like talking to strangers? Ask them questions: what they liked about their last job, if they read any good books lately or saw a movie? Get them talking, and the chances are great that they’ll then start to ask you questions and be genuinely interested in your answers (because you took the time to care about them).

Are you meeting people outside of the networking event for lunch or a cup of coffee? Just because everyone stands around and chit-chats doesn’t mean that they’re instantly going to turn to you and think of someone they know at your dream company who can land you a job.

You have to build relationships, you have to be friends first, and the other person has to understand what you’re looking to do next. That’s a process.

Are you clearly describing what you did in your last job and how someone can help you? Some jobs are pretty esoteric, so describing it in the framework of “I’m the person who..” or “Did you know that there are people who do X,Y, Z behind the scenes?” gives people some idea of how you fit into the bigger scheme of the working world. If they don’t understand what you do or how they can help-they won’t, because they can’t. It’s as simple as that. It’s up to you to make sure that your experience is really resonating with people from all different walks of life.

Are you really using LinkedIn to the best of your advantage? Recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals will search the site to find qualified candidates versus placing an ad because it’s more efficient than sorting through a ton of resumes. Jennifer Scott of HireEffect conducts webinars to teach you how to use it from a recruiter’s perspective, and Donna Sweidan from CareerFolk will work with you to rewrite your profile and highlight your best attributes.

So look at each component of your networking to pinpoint things you could be doing better, and then work on that over the next week to get your job search in shape.

And let’s put you in line to get something better than a raise in the next quarter-a new job!