Your Resume Versus Your Network: It’s Not Even Close

I received an email from a reader who wrote to thank me for the advice I’d provided through this blog and a presentation he’d attended. He has just started what he describes as his dream job as a benefits claims manager at a large firm. It’s always nice to hear from a reader, and especially nice to hear from one who knows how to position himself for his next opportunity.

I’ll let Mitch Ashley tell you himself:

How did I get this job? A friend. The person at the very top of my network list. A friend that many years ago saw what I was capable of when we met in the military, then more recently sat next to me in class after class in graduate school. When it came to filling a position at work, he knew who to call. I will forever be grateful to him for that. That friend didn’t call me simply because we’re friends; he’s far more professional than that. He called the person he knew could do the job. He needed somebody he could trust, somebody with whom he already had a good working relationship, and somebody who wouldn’t require a lot of training to be up and running.”

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Rule One of career advancement is to be excellent where you are. Excellence is a way of life, not just an occasional event. Mitch made a good impression in the military, and a great impression in class. Too many students think of school as, well, an academic exercise. How you do anything is how you do everything: showing up, being eager to learn and engaged, and doing your homework are all skills that transfer to your job later. If you’re a slacker in class, it’s fair to assume that you might be a slacker on the job.

Mitch got the call on Monday and spent the week studying for the interview. He prepped himself (using this blog as study material – thanks for that) and researched the company. He worked on his resume to make sure he had it in top shape for the interview. Turns out, that wasn’t needed.

On Friday, when he went into the interview, he was prepared for everything but the hiring manager’s opening remark: “I just want you to know you already have the job – we just need to discuss what it entails.” His friend in the company had already made the case with his boss, providing specific examples to prove how Mitch was a great fit. The friend had the boss’ trust, so she was already prepared to offer Mitch a chance. He started the job the next Monday.

If you’re spending lots of time on your resume and online applications, here’s a tip: spend more time on your network. Follow my three rules of networking:

  1. Do a great job where you are; treat every day as an audition for your dream job. Because it is.
  2. Stay connected to people you respect and like, and help them out when you can. The career karma you create will come back to you.
  3. Do your homework and be ready when opportunity knocks. Your dream job may be just one connection away.

Too many jobseekers ask their resume to do the work of their network. When it comes to getting results, it’s not even close. Ask Mitch.



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