I’ve been giving people the hook up every day so far this week!  On Monday, I caught wind of a handful of positions that were coming open in another part of the country, so I started calling around to my friends in the area to see if they needed work or knew anyone who did.  On Tuesday one of my employees told me that he was applying for a promotion, so I wrote the hiring manager an email letter of reference saying what a great guy he was.  And today, I heard about another pending contract award in a city where I used to live, so I started passing the information along to my former co-workers in case they were looking to make a change.

It’s definitely been busy, and passing out these hookups is in addition to my regular “work”.  I really don’t mind it, though.  After fifteen years of building my career, I’m finally in a position to help out good people by giving them a job, or at least by pointing them to some advancement opportunities.  Also, I’ve got some selfish reasons for doing this, too.  Of course I want to work with the best possible people, so I’ve got no hesitation about bringing people I trust on board.  And even if I’m not going to be working directly with the person, submitting qualified referrals to other managers makes me look like I have a huge network of contacts, and helps me shine.  Besides, it’s not really a hard process, just a matter of knowing the right people to talk to.  Chances are pretty good that I (or just about any other security manager at any company) could place even a moderately qualified person into a decent job, or at least send some leads their way.

                But if that’s the case, why isn’t anyone “hooking you up” with a personal referral???

                To put it real simply, it’s because I (or they) don’t know you well enough!  Look, I’ve worked hard to build my professional reputation.  I’m not about to put that on the line by vouching for someone I’ve never met personally, and I can promise that most other managers will feel the same way!  Asking for a referral or a “hook up” from someone you never met only makes you look lazy, like the kind of person who’s not willing to do what it takes to get hired.  That’s a red flag for me.  It’s almost as bad as if an applicant is slow to return phone calls or emails.  If a person refuses to put any effort into the hiring process, they probably won’t put any effort into their job once they’re hired! 

                Also, I know that the Democrats are still running the show right now, but we haven’t quite made the jump into a welfare state just yet.  What makes you think that people are willing to waste their valuable time to help out someone they never met?  Close friends and battle buddies, okay.  Family members, maybe.  But for a complete stranger that you only know from them interwebs?  Hell no!  I like to think that my time is valuable, and that’s why I run a fee-based business for career counseling.  Karma is nice and all, but it doesn’t pay the light bill!

                If you’re still trying to get your foot in the door, let’s try this:  Instead of sending off emails to some stranger asking for a hook up with a sweet $100k+ job, why not try looking through your own network first?  It’s easy enough to get started, just follow these steps:

                -Write down a list of all the places you’ve ever worked.  Start with your current job (if you don’t have one, get one!)  and make a list of all the people you enjoyed working with.  Keep going back even as far as your part-time high school job at Mickey D’s, since you never know where that that guy who used to work the grill might have ended up.

                -Fire off a couple of emails or phone calls to some people on your list, just to check in.  Find out what they’re doing these days, and keep in touch regularly.  Let them know that you’re always looking for more career challenges.

                -Once you’ve done that, take your network online.  Consider using Facebook on LinkedIn, since it can easily pull up your former co-workers, classmates and their friends.  NEVER use MySpace, it’s the ghetto of the internet, and be sure to check your privacy settings, and avoid posting any photos that would make you look like an unprofessional bag of douche.

                -Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, you might be surprised to see how many people you have in your network.  Building a web of contacts doesn’t happen overnight, but then neither does building a career!   Remember that networking tends to work both ways, so make sure to keep your buds in the loop if you hear of any openings that meet their skills.

                If it seems sometimes like the hiring process doesn’t happen as quickly as you’d like, guess what?  That’s by design.  Look, the people who don’t have enough patience to work through an application process are probably not going to be able to last very long when it comes to standing those boring 12-hour shifts at an ECP wearing full body armor anyway in 120 degree heat…