It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

By Gary Markellits not what you know

We’ve all heard the statement, “It’s not what you know, it is who you know.” The main point being made is usually valid depending upon how you might be applying this statement. When it comes to success in your life and your career, “what you know” is important of course. When it comes to your job search the “it is who you know” is incredibly relevant but often neglected. If you have not leveraged your task-related relationships and connections for validation and testimony of your work, you are leaving opportunities as dying echoes of your past.

How much can being validated help your job search and your career growth?

Witnesses of your work

Especially work related contacts can most certainly be valuable to your job search. I have observed this first-hand. Often a good resume can be lost in the shuffle. Hiring authorities have many disappointments chasing resumes. A testimonial written from a client or your previous boss can raise an eyebrow and provide the spark to incite further interest in you as a candidate. If you did a good job in the past, they can easily conclude you will most likely repeat those actions again in the future.

Ask for Recommendations

Often as I am recruiting and interviewing, I will ask candidates if they have any “Client Appreciation Letters”, “Reviews”, or “Reference letters”? 9 times out of 10 people admit they do not. Often I hear, “I have had some, but I do not know what I did with them.” Most often people never ask for them, and not because they do not warrant them. So here is my advice: whenever in your course of work that you have done anything notable or above the call of duty, get it endorsed on a written document.

Be Proactive

When is the best time to ask your contacts for validating your work results? The best time is immediately after you have performed a task where you produced notable results. Get in the habit of asking for testimonials. When anyone says anything positive about your efforts and results, let that be a prompt for you to ask them to put it down in writing for you. If they were sincere in offering the verbal gesture, they will not mind taking ten minutes to write it down for you. Do it at that moment. You can sometimes still get them later on, however my advice is to get them when the passion and conviction are the highest, and when the memory of the event is fresh.

Be Organized

Save testimonials in a file; either in hardcopy, digital or both.

Who should I request recommendations from?

  1. Past Employers
  2. Current Employers
  3. Clients
  4. Project Leaders
  5. Associates and Team Members
  6. Professors, University / Education – Academic/Leadership References
  7. Community and Volunteer Activity
  8. Clubs / Associations / Memberships
  9. Military Service

What are good sources for recommendations to save in my career file?

  1. Past reviews
  2. Reference Letters
  3. Social Media Written Testimonials (Linkedin for example)
  4. Client Appreciation Letters
  5. Awards & Recognition Certificates

When you are directly providing references for a company interviewing you…

  1. Communicate with your references so they will not be surprised by a call
  2. Explain to each reference the main traits to focus on based upon the job for this employer
  3. Explain to each reference to be confidential regarding your job search
  4. Provide complete information on your reference list. (Name, Title, Daytime phone number, your relationship to the reference and from which organization you served together)

Continue to build your network and follow the IBM LinkedIn page.

What will you make with IBM?

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