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Job Hunting: Wake Up Your Village

When you are searching for a job, sitting at home mailing out resume after resume might work. But if you get everyone in your village out on the hunt for you your chances of success are greatly increased.

Your village is everyone you are connected to in your industry. People love to help others in their village if they can so if someone in your village know someone who is looking for someone just like you, they will pass on the referral.

The trick is to make your village as big as possible, and, of course, to tell them that you need their help. Get yourself plugged into the conversations and watch how fast you start getting a positive response.

So here are three steps to waking up your village and getting them in on your job hunt:

Step One:  Friends and Colleagues

Once you decide that you are in the market for a new job, let all your friends and acquaintances know!  No need to be shy.  Let’s assume you know 30 people in your industry.  It’s a conservative guess to say that those 30 people know another 30 people each.  You already have a network of 900 people who know that you are looking for work!

With each person you add to your social network, that number grows exponentially.  Don’t be afraid to send out an email with a short paragraph (4-6 sentences) explaining what your skillset is and what type of job you’re looking for, as well as a copy of your resume and your permission to forward it on.

If you’re lucky, your contacts will have the “light bulb” moment and forward your information on to people they know who may be hiring or know someone who is hiring.  Doesn’t everyone “know a guy who knows a guy”?  Your search is off to a great start!

The next place to go is online.  This is where your connections will begin to grow exponentially.  Which leads me to:

Step Two:  Online Networking

I’ve written previously about souping up your online network through LinkedIn and using it in your job search. A good LinkedIn network, and any other social networks you might have – be it Twitter, Facebook or whatever – can help you find someone who is looking to recruit a scientist just like you. Make sure your pages are professional in nature (no photos of you wearing a beer hat!)

Wake up your online networking village by telling everyone you are looking for a job and, again, don’t be afraid write a short paragraph about your skill set and the kind of job you are looking for. Make sure you have a thorough LinkedIn profile (see previous blog for details on how to do this). Don’t forget to put your contact information where it is easily seen – both phone number and email address.

A bonus tip for using LinkedIn: join as many groups as you can.  All you have to do is ask to be included and people are rarely turned down.  Then, you can get daily summaries of the group’s activities –  including job postings, discussions, and upcoming meet-and-greet events.  If you join 5 groups with 100 people each, you just expanded your village by another 500 people!  That was easy.

Step Three:  In-Person Networking

No matter what technology is available, there will never be any networking tool better than meeting someone in person, shaking their hand, and looking them in the eye.

They will remember you much better this way and it’s a great way to build lasting relationships.

Ask around to see what networking events are in your city and area of interest.  One of the great ways to do this is to ask your recruiter (we are networking experts!) for referrals to groups.  You will also find many cocktail hours and networking events through your LinkedIn groups.  For San Diego, some of the biggest events are the bi-monthly San Diego Biotech Discussion Group (www.sd-biotech.org) and the newly created San Diego Biotechnology Network (www.sdbn.org).  These meetings attract 200+ attendees each – you never know who you are going to meet.

Another way to find networking events is through Meetup.com, which is a great service for finding meetup groups on specific topics in your local area. For example, the map below shows the location of biotechnology meetup groups all over the world… and you are invited to them all. (Or you can go to the site and start your own meetup group!)

Print up some resumes, bring some contact cards and dress to impress.  It can be difficult to get started if you’re shy, but an easy way to get over the hump is to just pick one kind-looking soul in the room and introduce yourself.  Once you get started, you will find that the room is filled with people just like yourself who need to expand their network and will be happy to both share their story with you and listen to yours.

After you attend these events 2 or 3 times, you will find that your network has again doubled or quadrupled in size.  There are also smaller, niche groups that will be more focused and intimate, such as the San Diego Regulatory Affairs Network (www.sdran.org).  These are great in that you will meet the same people over and over again, and friendships start to evolve with people you have so much in common with – a great side benefit!

Finally…

What do you think of this sort of approach to job hunting will you use it – or do you already? Any questions, comments or further ideas are, as always, very welcome.

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