Social Networking: Insurance For Your Career

Photo Credit: Jeff Turner

If you’re a software engineer, especially if you’re in Silicon Valley, you will no-doubt have been pinged several times by recruiters and former coworkers about exciting opportunities at their company. How should you respond? You might be really happy at your current company and not even be thinking about leaving. Being a technical recruiter in the valley, I hear this all the time. People love their jobs and aren’t interested in discussing opportunities.

My advice to you is, always take the time to listen to the opportunity even though you might not be interested–at the time–in taking it. Listening to opportunities is like taking out insurance. You might not need it, but it’s critical to have when you do.

Think of the reasons why you love your job:

“My boss is the greatest and I flourish under him or her.” Your boss can leave at the drop of a hat and their replacement can be worse.

The company atmosphere is great. Your company could be sold or go through lay-offs. Or after a certain amount of time the environment of your company could no longer fit your lifestyle.

When these things start happening, people start scrambling to try and remember that person who reached out to them. The person they never even responded to. It’s good to keep a list going of all the recruiters or coworkers that have reached out to you. Thus when you do find yourself on the market, you won’t be starting from scratch. You’ll have a clear path of leads to reach out to at your own pace when you are ready.

What if you don’t like the company a recruiter is working for? The Valley is all about relationships, and recruiters are known to go from agencies to big named companies to start ups and back to big named companies again.  (I should know. I’ve done all three in my career.) Recruiters keep lists of top candidates, another reason it’s good to connect with them. Because down the road, they might go to a company that you would be very excited to work for. Or they might know someone that can help you out.

It’s also good to remember that companies can change when considering opportunities. Nine years ago, a certain big-named Bay Area company’s stock was going at $22 per share. People thought they were done. The stock is now at $250 per share! When that company was recruiting they recruited their future vision. Now some of those people who took the leap are benefiting from it.

So how do you get your “social networking insurance” ready? You should keep your social profiles current, and not wait until you’re in need (just like insurance). This way it’s ready when you need it. Get LinkedIn recommendations during your tenure at your company and not when you are ready to leave. Also, take part in groups and other interests that encourage networking. People like to hire people they’ve known via blogs, meet-ups, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc… People (not just recruiters) will always reach out to their networks first. A lot of the time when a manager hires a referral, it isn’t someone’s aunt Margaret, or their neighbor, but someone they’ve connected with via social media. This can also come in handy when it’s your turn to hire people for yourself.

So remember it’s like insurance you might not need, but when you do, it is there for you!

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