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The Layoff Victim

The Layoff Victim: Networking Newbie

Jennifer Flowers was laid off from her job with a non-profit organization the morning of Monday, September 14. By that afternoon, she was petitioning President Obama for a job.

But, as the New York Post article about her public layoff announcement quipped, "this Jennifer Flowers couldn't even get the president to look at her," much less get him to help her find a job.

Flowers isn't daunted, however. She's still looking for a job, and she's launched a new Web site and a Twitter account in hopes of helping others in similar situations. Other Skilled, Talented, Active and Ready workers, or STARS as Flowers calls them.

"I turned to a former colleague whom I knew firsthand to be an expert in IT and ... we started discussing how we could help each other find stable employment. this soon expanded to how we could help others while also benefiting from their skills and expertise," Flowers writes on her Web site www.LaidOffTodayHireMe.com. "STAR employees are laid off regularly in this economy, so why don't we reach out to them and begin our own network of people volunteering their time and skills to both give and receive?"

According to a recent survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, networking is the most valuable tool in a job seeker's arsenal.

The survey asked human resource executives to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective), networking averaged a 3.98. About half (48 percent) of the respondents gave networking the highest effectiveness rating of five.

The second most effective job-search tool available is a relatively new one. Social/professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, garnered an average rating of 3.3, with 47 percent of respondents giving it a rating of four or five. Meanwhile, job fairs ranked as the least effective job-search method, scoring an average rating of 1.6. It was followed closely by responding to newspaper classified ads and sending resumes to employers, which each averaged 1.7 on the rating scale.

Survey respondents gave Internet job boards relatively high marks. It averaged a middle-of-the-road rating of 3.0, but 38 percent of respondents gave it a 4.0. While the Internet has the potential to be very useful for job seekers, Challenger said that it has become the primary tool for many, when it should be considered secondary to the traditional technique of networking and meeting prospective employers in person.

"Overuse of the Internet also threatens to prolong the hiring process on the employer's end, as well, by inundating employers with irrelevant resumes. Some human resource executives complain that for every qualified candidate that comes in from the Internet, there are 10 to 20 who do not even come close to being a good fit," said John A. Challenger , chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"The more irrelevant resumes that hiring managers have to wade through in order to select the handful to bring in for interviews, the longer it takes to fill the position. One result of this has been the increased use of digital screening software that scans incoming resumes for keywords. Resumes without the right words are filtered out of the process. This will make it even more difficult for job seekers to get their resume in front of the hiring executive," said Challenger.

Meanwhile, folks like Jennifer continue to search.

"There are so many people out there that are skilled, talented and ready, and they just need to find the right forum to get their message out there," Jennifer says. "And if putting this Web site together can help them do that, then that's great.

"For me, personally, much of this is very new. I am not someone that is connected into the social network scene, but as of this morning, I have a Web site and a Twitter account ... it's going to be quite a journey."