Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Career searching advice: find the droids you're looking for.

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” (Obi Wan Kenobi)

In nearly any form of professional activity, including career searching, the more intelligence one can acquire the more effective one should be, correct?

Not so fast. Timing, in all things, is crucial.

In as public a forum as this, I will not say with whom or when it happened, but twice I’ve attempted to develop a relationship with a relative stranger at Company X. The motivations were: 1. Learning more about the company and said stranger’s relationship to Company X, 2. developing a new relationship and 3. finding a career within Company X at a time when no specific opening was/is currently available.

Twice I believe I’ve initiated conversations (both via Twitter) with people who almost immediately perceived me as a threat. I cannot blame them for this. We dealt in the same realm of expertise. And how are you supposed to respond when the second question from your new contact is, “What is your profession?”

How many ways are there to say “Java engineer,” or “CPA,” or “public relations?” Any seasoned vet of any area of expertise would see through a semantic disguise or other BS. And if they didn’t, one’s endeavors might feel like subterfuge creating an element of remorse with which I would not be comfortable.

Therefore, is one better off trying to generate a relationship inside your area of expertise or outside of it? It is indisputable that the farther up the chain of command the better for situations such as these. What is less clear is how one avoids being perceived as a threat when seeking a new career with Company X.

The only advice I can offer gentle people is to dig, dig, dig … then dig some more to find the highest ranking officer within your area of expertise (i.e. that person to whom you would report) before letting on that your goal is a career with Company X. Then connect in the old fashioned way if you have to. Twitter is not the end all be all, especially if you don’t have the right person.

Comments, advice, experiences welcome!

Move along.

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