What is job networking?

And how does personal marketing work?

Job networking model     The world is full of job coaches, employment councillors and career advisors, whose noble job is to guide job seekers through their job seeking process. I scoured the Internet for a model on which this process may be based, but couldn’t find one. By not exposing the model, job seekers may lack a coherent picture of the knowledge the coaches and advisors seek to impart, which may lead to issues of acceptance or misunderstandings. In this post I will present a first (imperfect) version of an explicit model that integrates job networking and personal marketing. As usual I start with a concept map, under the slogan “think before you write”. In grey capitals I indicated themes for different areas on the concept map, including: job market, competition, personal branding and job satisfaction.

Job seeker’s task      What the job seeker must do – apart from responding to job vacancies – is three things: (1) specify the jobs he or she wants; (2) clarify his or her competencies that enable him or her to carry out that job to satisfaction; and (3) work through his network to identify and learn about jobs that are not published. It is claimed by some that 70 or 80% of the job openings are not published, so it will depend on the extent of one’s network to what extend one can learn about them. A job seeker may or may not seek to upgrade his KSA competencies to achieve an ulterior career goal. Usually upgrading activites concern acquiring knowledge or experience.

job networking

Personal marketing          If the normal job seeking activities do not produce the desired result, it is time to think about personal marketing or personal branding. It starts with getting a better idea of the job opportunities available and the extent to which one’s KSA competencies are adequate. If not, maybe one needs to look for other jobs or enhance one’s competencies. If they are, it is even more important to get one’s message across. To do so, one must show the person behind the product, e.g. by clarifying why one values the job as important, how well it suits one’s abilities, why one’s professional experience in handling similar work in the past makes mutual future satisfaction likely, how one’s appreciation of the mission and strategy of the employer makes one enthusiastic.

Promotion       … is using social media (e.g. LinkedIn or one’s own website) to promote the ‘package’, i.e. both the competencies and the personality, especially how the person values the different dimensions of a particular job choice (other people prefer terms such as ‘personality-job fit’). In the case of job networking this is done indirectly, viz. never by asking for a job (“embarrassing no-go area”), but by asking for advice, ideas or information that could ultimately help one identify new leads, including leads to new jobs or old ones with a new twist. A job seeker may also have special skills or personality traits that are worth drawing attention to. Now that I think of it, this approach could also be called a 2P2 marketing mix, because of the double combination: (1) Promotion differentiating the Package, which in turn consists of (2) a jobseeker as both a Person and a Product.

Career development     … is the lifelong process of managing learning, work, leisure, and transitions in order to move toward a personally determined and evolving preferred future (I got this from Wikipedia). It points at the importance of continues development and expansion of competencies, not just as something that happens over time to people while carrying out their job, but also as a (highly) desirable and manageable process. It is a relatively new concept for most people, who used to change jobs as dictated by need and opportunity. It is an increasingly important concept in the current economic climate. Business has changed. The world has changed. There are new opportunities to be discovered and seized. Job marketing and personal networking can help you do that. Clever, (sometimes over)ambitious guys (and girls) have been doing it for ages. Time to give’m some real meritocratic competition!

Rich concept map       Some of you may never have seen a concept map and especially not one made by me. It may take a while to learn how to read them. First of all you need to know that concepts are linked by verbs to form propositions. So there is the proposition “job seekers manage talents”. Now “talents” is the predicative nominal in another proposition “KSA competencies help express talents”. This could be understood as implying that a job seeker must develop his or her competiencies to express his/her talents. I could have added that as a proposition in the concept map, but I didn’t; for three reasons: (1) to avoid cluttering the the concept map with endless relationships; (2) to concentrate on explaining the personal marketing model as a whole; and (3) to help you see how meaning unfolds by following chains of propositions. There is much more meaning in the concept map than I have described in this post. It is up to the clever reader to find more of them. And improve on the model, because – as I mentioned before – it is not perfect.

Football player      My guess is that most of the concept map is immediately clear. The problem is in the grayish-yellowish part at the bottom left part of the map. One could say that it is a more detailed unfolding of the Attitudes/motivation concept in the upper richt part of the map. Let me explain the eight (8) concepts using the example of a professional (1) football player, i.e. somebody who derives an income (2) from playing football. To find employment he (or she) must have exceptional ability (3). This feeds his passion (4) for the game, which drives him to get ever better in it. The passion is driven not only by innate and trained ability, but also by a sense of joy derived from the beauty of the game and the joy (5) it provides to the fans. One could call that the mission (6) of football, which also serves a societal needs (7) such as a sense of belonging and an opportunity for advertising. In a sense that makes football a calling or mission (8). It is a mix of these aspects that make a footballer value his job. Those who understand it best are also the best players and are likely to experience the fullest job satisfaction. Hence its importance in personal branding.

Announcement       This concept map will be part of a report on the application of a systems approach of the Wicked Solutions variety to an actual job seeker. It is expected to demonstrate how concept mapping can be combined with systems thinking. As this is not an existing methodology but must result from a process of evolving insight there is no deadline, but I hope it will be ready by the end of July 2016. Some hints of how it may work can be gleaned from previous posts, such as What perspective for Northern Mali? and What is Europe about?, both totally different subjects (one on conflict, the other on identity), but that’s typical of the systems approach: it can be applied to anything as long as it involves humans to provide the necessary complexity 😉 .


About Sjon van ’t Hof

Development professional who worked in rural development, tropical agriculture, and irrigation development in Chad, Zambia, Mali, Ghana, Mauritania, Israel, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the Netherlands in capacities ranging from project design and management to information management. Conducted missions to India, China, Kenya, and Bangladesh. Experience in the development and delivery of trainings in irrigation equipment selection, information literacy, Internet searching and database searching. Explores systems thinking in relation to international development, education, and management, with an ever stronger focus on the systems approach of C. West Churchman. Knowledgeable in tropical agriculture, project design and development economics, agricultural mechanization, irrigation, plant pathology, environmental degradation and protection, rural development. Co-authored "Wicked Solutions: a systems approach to complex problems", a book written by Bob Williams and Sjon van 't Hof. It was published in June 2014 and provides a practical way of dealing with wicked problems. Wicked problems are complex, ill-structured, human problem situations. This book will help you design an inquiry and intervention in such messy, wicked situations. It does so by guiding you through the steps and stages of a systemic process that addresses your own wicked problem. For more information, see https://csl4d.wordpress.com/ or http://www.bobwilliams.co.nz/Systems_Resources.html
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