Networking

Mr. Ripley on LinkedIn

A little while ago I mentioned how I do not fully understand LinkedIn. This is still true. I have, however, started to figure out networking. Networking is a word that gets thrown around a lot in job hunting circles as if what it entails and how to do it are completely obvious. Maybe this is true for most people. Maybe most of the world knows how to network effectively. Academics, however, are not most people. Sure, I went to conferences and had conversations with other academics, but this is not the same thing. Why? Because the academic job market consists of a lot of cold applying. The MLA job list comes out, you mail off your ridiculously long application, and you wait. There is no calling someone you know in the department to talk about the position. In theory, your committee members might make calls on your behalf, but I’ve never known that to be very effective (for me or anyone else I know). Once, I applied to a department when I had a recommendation from a senior faculty member in that department. Not even a courtesy interview.

Given my previous experience, I initially thought applying for non-academic jobs would be the same. I would just find job ads and submit my resume. Oh, the important life skills graduate school does not teach! As it turns out, unlike a faculty search, you can actually call people in the company you want to work for and talk about an open position. The hiring manager might actually want to talk to you about whether you’re a good fit or not. This is blowing my mind, guys. Can you imagine calling up a faculty search chair and being all, “So, I see you’re looking for an assistant professor in obscure subfield X. I wrote my whole dissertation about X! Let’s talk.” Not a chance. I used to feel lucky if I could get a school to send me a timely rejection letter.

Next week I have calls scheduled to talk about open positions that seem like really good opportunities for me. It’s all very exciting. I scheduled these calls by emailing a contact I have in the company about a job I saw posted and asked if there was someone I could talk to about it. This person mentioned me and my background to the hiring manager and passed that contact info along to me. Networking accomplished!

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5 Comments on “Networking”

  1. AEE says:

    Yay, all my best to you! Yay!

  2. Currer Bell says:

    Yes! I’ve found that networking was key to getting me my interview with Large Academic Publisher and I’ve been trying to do it with as many jobs as possible. My only frustration has been that, so far, the people I know are not in the “power position” of doing the actual hiring. So, yes, I’ve had some luck getting my resume seen, getting phone interviews, etc but it hasn’t yet panned out that my networking contact has any actual “pull.” I hope we both hit the networking jackpot soon.

    • Yeah, this can be a problem. I’ve found that if I’m doing an informational interview with someone and ask if there’s anyone else I should speak with, this will usually get me either HR contact info/an offer to run my resume past someone, or another contact. At first I felt weird about asking, but apparently this is a standard question and people have been happy to connect me with other people. I think it’s probably possible to eventually get to someone with “pull” if you talk to enough people, but this can definitely be one of the more frustrating parts of networking.

  3. [...] to get a job you have to know someone. Hence all the job hunting advice about the importance of networking. So while I knew this was true (and therefore bumbled about LinkedIn for awhile), I didn’t [...]


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