A client recently told me excitedly that she had received a job offer. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I flippantly remarked that “kissing all those frogs” must have worked, remembering a comment she made to me a few months earlier when I saw her leaving the office for yet another meeting. She responded, “Actually, you were right about the importance of networking and pursuing leads. I went to the 7th level in my networking! That’s a lot of frogs!”
This executive’s situation may not be typical of all job searches, but with white collar unemployment still above pre-recession levels, typical executive job searches take nearly double what they did a few years ago (averaging over 7 months). Research indicates people tend to give up after looking for 5 months. This highlights the need to continue following the path to a new job even when you are tempted to give up due to frustration or even if you don’t know exactly where more conversations will lead.
In the Grimm fairy tale, “The Frog Prince”, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends the Frog Prince who magically transforms into a handsome prince. In modern versions of this story the transformation is invariably triggered by the princess kissing the frog. The phrase, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince” is used to encourage those who seek true love, but I really like its use to describe the current job search process. For executives who are used to being pursued by recruiters, it is often very frustrating for them to think they need to work so hard and have hundreds of conversations to find a new job. I often see a shock on their face when they are told that they can’t just wait by the phone for that special call. They get frustrated that recruiters won’t return their calls, and they are not used to asking for help. But, given that over 80% of jobs result from networking, most of us need to network, network and network some more.
The right way to network is really just following a simple process. First, make a list of all the people you know who you think might be of help in your job search. Second, prioritize them by what you think are stronger to weaker relationships. Third, as you have each conversation, make it your goal to get 2 or 3 names of people that individual thinks could be of value in your search. For every conversation it’s either a discussion about a specific job or names of people that may be of help to you. Throughout these conversations, stay on point and keep working your program.
In this executive’s case it required seven levels of contacts to find the right opportunity. So, stay with it … it can take a lot of frogs before you find that special job!