Let me tell you a little story about a job I didn’t get.
A long time ago, I worked at a job with a manager who didn’t like me very much. I’m not projecting here — he pretty much said so, in a sleight-of-hand non-actionable way. It wasn’t a question of professional ability; he just didn’t like my personality.
Eventually though, he left the company. We had a meeting shortly before his last day, which I will never forget. Because this guy — who thought I was grating, who thought I wasn’t funny, who thought I was a little bit weird — offered me a job. What he actually said was, in reference to his new employer, “You know, we’re always looking for good people…” He left that hanging. Significant looks were exchanged.
In the end I stayed where I was. The new commute would have been miserable and besides, I liked where I was at the time. But it was nice to get the offer anyway. It speaks to the power of networking.
Yeah, networking. That awful soft-skill that everybody talks about that seems to exist solely to weed introverts out of the workforce. That squishy concept that leads the least genuine of us to feign extravagant interest in everyone they meet, in a way that actually ends up making everybody uncomfortable. You know what I mean.
That old manager of mine — he looked at the prospect of sifting an applicant pool of total strangers for an acceptable team member, and decided that in the end, he’d rather work with a known quantity (me), even if he didn’t particularly like spending time around me very much (thanks a lot). See? Networking is powerful stuff.
Or, perhaps we’re phrasing that wrong. Rather, we should say: hiring people and giving them all a fair shake is a pain in the ass. It is generally faster, easier, and cheaper to think, “Oh yeah, that one individual on my contact list seemed all right. Let’s just see if that person wants to do this job,” and then make a phone call. Or whatever.
This is what we want from networking, apparently. We want someone to look out at a sea of unknown faces, with unknown levels of ability, and we want them to think, “Ugggggh — this sucks! I wish I didn’t have to dooooo this — oh wait, don’t I know somebody who could…?”
Yes, they just might.
And yes, it might just be you. You, the slightly better alternative than assessment and interviewing.The candidate of least resistance.
Makes you proud, doesn’t it?