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Seek the Experience and Knowledge of Others in Your Job Search

By Apr 05,2014 Follow Me on Google+
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Summary

Use every available asset in your job search, including people; network with your peers and ask them about their own job searches. In doing this, you are taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of others, who have done the work that can influence your own job hunting success. Seek out this knowledge and learn from the experiences of others.

Back in college there were men I knew who would always shadow other men at parties. The first man would typically spend his entire evening drinking and talking to a woman he met at the party. At some point he would have had too much to drink and would start losing his focus. At that point, the shadow would appear, talk to the girl and, oftentimes, end up going home with her. Since the woman was usually also a little drunk at this point, she was not processing if she liked the shadow as much, and she was discounting the fact that she really did not know him at all.

There was a guy in my fraternity known as The Shadow, who did this all the time. Then, when I moved to California, there was a girl who worked for our company whom the other employees started calling The Shadow, to my astonishment. In sororities, fraternities, and, indeed workplaces all across America, there are shadows–people who let others do all the work and then sweep in at the last moment and steal the show.

Shadowing is not only popular on the party scene; it is also popular in business, in nature, and in the job search market.

Several years ago, I was doing some work outside my office and one of my employees came down to talk to me. He was a writer.

“You have a phone call on my line. Can you take it at my desk?”

I walked into the employee’s office and took a seat at his desk. The computer in his office was on and right in front of me was some correspondence between him and another writer in our office. They were comparing leads for other writing jobs and sharing job search information. The correspondence was quite in depth and went into detail about the location of the other employer, the pay of the job, and so forth. Since the correspondence was right in front of my face, I was naturally intrigued and could not help staring at it. As I spoke with the caller, I absorbed what I saw on the computer screen.

I was, of course, disappointed by the fact that the employee was interested in looking for another job, since he had been working in our company for years. After my initial shock wore off, I realized that something interesting was going on, and I started to consider the massive advantages we can gain by comparing notes and collaborating with others when we are looking for job opportunities. The two employees had been interviewing and looking at other jobs. Each was telling the other about good places to apply, poor places to apply, jobs that seemed to be one thing but were not, and so forth. It was as if they had doubled up in order to achieve the most effective job search possible for both of them.

There is a huge advantage in working with others to help find jobs. The other person you are working with will pound the pavement and do a lot of the work for you, as you share the load. You do not necessarily need to apply to every job, interview with every employer, and research every position yourself to get the best result. There can be real drawbacks in being self-sufficient in your job search, and not collaborating with others. The more people you know who are looking for jobs, the more you should pool all your information together, because the information everybody has can be of great value to the entire group.

Sharks are content to eat virtually any other fish in the ocean. However, there is one fish that the shark will not eat: It is the pilot fish, which provides great benefit to the shark. Once a shark has eaten another fish, the pilot fish cleans the teeth of the shark and eats the small bits of dead fish all around the shark’s teeth. It is an excellent relationship for both, the shark and for the pilot fish. The shark gets its teeth cleaned, and the pilot fish gets to eat without having to hunt. According to one account:

The pilot fish’s relationship with sharks is a mutualist one; the pilot fish gains protection from predators, while the shark gains freedom from parasites.It was often said by sailors that sharks and pilot fish share something like a “close companionship”; there were even tales of this fish following ships which had captured “their” shark for up to six weeks and showing signs of distress in its absence.

Whatever the veracity of such reports, it is extremely rare that a shark will feed on a pilot fish, and smaller pilot fish are frequently observed swimming into sharks’ mouths to clean away fragments of food from between their teeth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilot_fish

This relationship between the pilot fish and the shark is an example of two species collaborating to achieve an outcome. The pilot fish are smart: They let the shark do all of their work for them. You should be smart in your job search as well. Why should you spend all of your time tracking down jobs and learning about employers when there is a faster and much more effective way to do this? You can get other job seekers to do the work for you. When you get other job seekers to do work for you, you can tap into all the pavement pounding, research, and trial-and-error that the other job seekers have done. Think about how much time you may have spent looking for a job. If you can let others do all this work for you, you will do much better in your job search.

If you know of others who are looking for jobs in your industry, the smartest thing you can possibly do is to contact these people and talk to them about their job search. If you do this and nothing more, you will do incredibly well.

I had an intensely private attorney acquaintance who, at one time, decided to move from another market to Los Angeles. Since I was actively involved in the legal recruiting market and this person was an excellent attorney, I could have easily helped him move to a high-paying and reputable law firm in Los Angeles. However, the person did not want to “network” with me or other recruiters, and decided to pursue his job search all on his own, without letting others know anything about what he was doing. This attorney, who had been making $180,000 a year before he moved to Los Angeles, ended up taking a job for around $110,000 a year.

“The job market is really bad. There were not a lot of ads in the paper and this was the best job I was able to get,” he later told another acquaintance of mine.

The paper? I was incredulous when I heard this. Most legal employers had stopped advertising their jobs in the paper more than a decade ago. The jobs were, instead, listed in online publications and other areas. This person had been so private about his job search, though, that he did not even know any of this. Had the person been aware of this, he could have easily gotten a job paying $180,000 a year, or possibly more. However, because he was not able to network with others, and to obtain valuable and current information about the market, he accepted a job that offered well below his market potential. The few times I saw the attorney over the following years I told him some stories that illustrated the importance of having good information when searching for a job–just to get him thinking. The attorney stayed with his lower-paying job for several years before eventually moving on to a better job. I think (but do not know) that he probably followed my advice the next time he looked for a job.

In your job search, you must make use of each and every asset available to you. It is important to be strategic and to take advantage of the experience and knowledge of others. Remember that others often possess the knowledge and have done the work that can help make you successful in your own conquest. Seek out this knowledge, and learn from the experiences of others. Then use this information to the best of your ability, and you will find success.

THE LESSON

Use every available asset in your job search, including people; network with your peers and ask them about their own job searches. In doing this, you are taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of others, who have done the work that can influence your own job hunting success. Seek out this knowledge and learn from the experiences of others.

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  • http://www.dominicson.com Dominic Son

    Love the post. Finding a job is like the search for a relationship. And if you need some action, you’re just gonna say, screw this, hit on every damn thing with a pair of legs! Everyone does this, and the women eventually turn bi.

    At this rate, pretty soon, we’ll all be unemployed! Heard of the Resume Race Theory? http://digg.com/d312Ylh

    Dominic Son did not rate this post.
  • Job Hunter

    Not so sure about the first part of the post. Some women prefer the shadow to the lead guy. Oftentimes, the lead guys can be a bit overbearing.

    However, I feel that your point about including others in your job search is on target. In this market with so many job boards, online job applications on company websites, employment agencies and word of mouth jobs, it’s impossible for one person to be everywhere.

    Additional eyes and ears can be very helpful.

    Job Hunter did not rate this post.
  • Dawn

    How do I deal with the shadows at work. I did all the upfront work with organizing and using my personal capital to build a project. The problem was that someone else stole all the proceeds. How should I deal with this???

    Dawn did not rate this post.
  • Dawn

    With respect to the shadows. When I was working and developing the prooject I had to support it on my own. The challenge occurred when I had made it successful, by my own time and money, and people in more politically powerful positions swooped in. How should this be handled???????

    Dawn did not rate this post.

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