Be sure and contact people you've worked well with in the past. If their new employers are hiring, you'll have an edge because smart companies know that references from employees are a very effective way to find new talent.
As for getting past the awkwardness of networking, Fred Nothnagel, a senior career consultant with career management firm R.L. Stevens & Associates and the director of the WIND networking organization, offers his top five tips:
- Networking is about building business and professional relationships, not about asking for a job, finding a red carpet to a hiring manager or getting someone to empty his or her Rolodex or database into your head.
- (Corollary to #1) When you have a networking conversation, be prepared to not only present information of potential interest, but be sure and listen to the other person's professional/business concerns as well.
- Help others help you. When meeting with someone, bring a list of target companies and/or target decision-makers, ask for the info you need and leave a one-page networking profile--a summary of who you are, what you have to offer and what your goals are. If you speak via telephone, promptly send the materials you'd bring to a face-to-face meeting. Be respectful of the person's time.
- Follow up with the top 20 percent of people you talk with, based on mutual potential value and chemistry.
- Attend professional events, such as networking groups, professional society meetings, conferences, panel discussions, seminars, tradeshows and the like.
For women, WITI (Women in Technology International) offers many networking opportunities.
Finally, remember this: While today you're the one looking for leads, down the road, you may well be in a position to help someone else. When that happens, remember those who stepped up for you.
Dear Career Coach
I work in the small IT department of a large medical practice. I am appalled at the head-in-the-sand attitude many of my superiors and co-workers are still taking toward security, especially HIPAA, even this late in the game. Many of them say, "It's not my problem." I feel that there's an opportunity here for me to take the lead, and I'm working to put together a proposal as to why the practice should pay for security training and certifications. Any tips on getting my point across?
-- Hip to HIPAA
Good for you for taking the initiative. It's incredible that any IT person, especially in a healthcare setting, could be lackadaisical about security nowadays.
A study of more than 900 education, financial services, government, healthcare, IT and manufacturing organizations released last month by CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) revealed some eye-opening numbers that should help your case.
For example, 80 percent of organizations that invested in training IT staff on security felt that security has improved as a result. These companies also expected a tidy ROI from security training and certification--the median estimated ROI per employee per year is $20,000 for security training and $25,000 for security certification. Most companies said they spent $10,000 or less to train or certify IT employees in security. And, security spending as a percentage of overall IT budgets is up: 22 percent of respondents said their firms will spend at least 20 percent of their total IT budgets on security.
See more on the study here.
Game Plan: To offer readers a chance to interact with peers and career experts alike while keeping you up-to-date on the latest developments in tech hiring, Career Coach will go cyber starting now. Visit our new IT Career Resource Center and blog today.