Rip up your CV and start networking
CVs are so yesterday! For as long as we can remember, the CV has been the "passport" to jobs and to work. But it is such a one-dimensional document in so many ways.
It usually starts at the moment where we've finished full-time education and ends up being a list of jobs that we've done for different organisations. It has its use as far as it goes; which frankly isn't very far.
Those reading it (in the recruitment sector particularly) probably spend less than a minute reading the cover letter and the CV (typically two pages).
It doesn't matter whether it's a recruitment agency or an internal HR department, the CV gets processed pretty much the same way. In summary, the CV makes it easy, makes the users lazy, it's a boring document and it is anything but comprehensive. It suits the intermediaries, but not us – the talented job hunter!
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On the other hand, there's networking. Networking is based on a combination of face-to-face relationships that you can build and have built, together with online social media, which is changing with amazing acceleration in front of our eyes. And before we go further, let's just note that the best networking is based on quality, not on quantity.
So why do we/should we start networking? Networking encourages us to be specific; specific about who we are, what we have to offer and what our value and our contribution is. We have control over what information we release about ourselves and through which channels we release it. Networking, critically, allows us to control what suits our style, whether we're perhaps an introvert or an extrovert. It allows us, in other words, to put our best foot forward in a way that suits us best.
What are these networks and what can they do for us? We definitely need to be clear about our intentions. What is it that we are trying to do? Who is it that we want to work for? What job is it that we know will suit us best at this stage of our career?
Being clear about our intentions allows us to set out our territory – to be specific about our targeting and to be smart about how we use these networks, so that we don't waste our time or the time of other people. This type of networking allows us to get to know the communities of interest to us. Our networking communities are based on what we know and so who it is that we know is important as well as those that we need to get to know.
What we're doing in developing these networks is creating warmer relationships. These warm relationships, whether we utilise them for information, for leverage or for a job, mean that we have contact with real human beings. We will not be homogenized.
All of us have networks, however immature or small they may be. Every one of us can start to build our networks from this moment forward. Start with asking who do you know and then who it is that you sense that your network may know. How do you find out who they know? You need to find out by being curious; about the people that you know who you could know better and by exploring just what life and work they have done.
Think about who else you need to know and build a network towards them because over time you can nurture these relationships.
There's something more about networking. Smart networking enables you to take control of your learning and your growth. Using your network can help you to understand the specialist area that you want to get better known in. This is about using your network to link yourself to knowledge. This implies a continuous developmental process that should last for the whole of your career. It is not, as CVs are, about fits and starts that are predicated on your job search in that particular moment. Networking is a building process completely in sync with your developing career.
Networking is part of what makes you and it allows others in your world to understand you – how you're growing, how valuable you are and your availability to do something for them.
For more careers advice, visit jobsite.co.uk