Sunday, April 26, 2009

On Networking

Can an activity be both fruitless and necessary?  

Like Sisyphus pushing his rock up the hill only to have it roll down and repeat the process ad infinitum, networking is a process that generates no benefits, and yet must be conducted over and over again in the hope that one day the gods will put an end to the misery.  

Networking is an enormous waste of time, and has the really annoying quality of wasting not only your time, but the time of people you one day hope will help you out.  Here's how it typically goes: Someone your brother-in-law works with has given you the e-mail address of his college instruction on what to say or what makes the guy tick...just an e-mail address and a job title (Associate Vice President of Knowledge and Information Security for the Eastern West Region).  Now you have to e-mail a total stranger with whom you have nothing in common and hope like Hell he can pass your resume to someone who matters.  

So you e-mail Mr. AVP and say something vague like, "John put me in touch with you.  If you have the time I'd love to ask you some questions about your job in order to gain some insight for my own career search."  Translated into actual English this means, "I don't know you or John, but I don't want you to think I'm a stalker, so I'll throw this name in here.  I have to pretend that I'm not begging for a job, so I'll say that I'm interested in what you do...even though you don't really do what I want to do, and you don't even work in the Finance department which is where I'm aiming for.  If after a five minute phone conversation you decide I'm not a drooling imbecile, please send my resume to someone who makes interviewing decisions (i.e., someone who matters....not you).  Thank you for your time, and please forgive me for asking a favor of a total stranger."

Repeat this process 10 times a week for 16 weeks and you get to where I am...the end of April, an inbox full of e-mails, and nowhere closer to getting a job than I was January 1st.  They say that only 4% of people find a job by blindly applying to internet job posts, but networking doesn't appear to be working either.  I'm this close to xeroxing 1000 copies of my resume and dropping them on the seats of all the BART trains in SF.  I think that desperation may come across as persistence in a recession.  I wonder how much it costs to get a billboard ad on the 101.....   

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly how you feel. I've been living on zero income since January, and often have to listen to someone cheerily use the phrase "It's not what you know, but WHO you know!" What is worse than the pile of generic/ useless replies from these emails is the lack of response.

    I'm convinced no one is getting a job these past few months, especially anyone with a graduate or professional degree. We're all supposed to be rich, white kids, so no one is going to shed a tear until we do.

    Unemployment feels like leprosy.

    Also, (on an unrelated note)HR people suck.