Unconventional job search tips from a startup legend

02.15.2012


Reid Hoffman, founder and chairman of the major social networking site LinkedIn, recently challenged traditional job search wisdom espoused by many supposed gurus in his new book, "The Start-up of You."

He stated that "What Color is Your Parachute?" is an outdated question for this economy, according to Mashable. Instead, job seekers should be wondering if their parachute can keep them from plummeting if conditions change.

Hoffman states that individuals seeking jobs through employment agencies or other means don't need to uncover their passions or deepest desires, the media outlet reports. He denies the notion that people have a "true self" they need to bring out.

"Contrary to what many bestselling authors and motivational gurus would have you believe, there is not a ‘true self’ deep within that you can uncover via introspection and that will point you in the right direction," Hoffman writes in his book.

He identified the importance of aspirations, stating that "your aspirations shape what you do. But your aspirations are themselves shaped by your actions and experiences. You remake yourself as you grow and the world changes. Your identity doesn’t get found. It emerges."

The LinkedIn executive also emphasized the importance of networking and relationship building in an individual's job search. Job seekers need to not only consider their close personal friends, but also "weak ties" that they speak with occasionally.

When sociologist Mark Granovetter conducted a survey of a random sample of professionals in a 1973 survey, he found that 82 percent of respondents had recently found a job through networking with these looser connections, according to Fortune Magazine. This still holds true today.

Another example of the power that can be wielded through weak ties is Frank Hannigan, a software entrepreneur who raised $200,000 over the course of eight days by contacting his 700 first-degree connections, Mashable reports. Around 30 percent of the people who contributed funding were second-degree connections.

When networking, Hoffman advises that people focus on building relationships as a primary goal, and worry about generating results after, according to the media outlet. These "relationship builders" don't keep track of the favors they have done for others, and don't only think of their connections when they need something.

"When you’re deciding whether or not to build a professional relationship with someone, there are many considerations: whether you like him or her; the capacity for the person to help you build your assets, reach your aspirations and position you well competitively and for you to help back in all the same ways," Hoffman wrote in his book, the media outlet reports. "And, like with dating, you should always have a long-term perspective."

The author emphasized empathy as being crucial to effective relationship building, according to Fortune. He explained that knowing what is going on inside another person's head is important to having a genuine relationship. Another crucial aspect of true relationship building is the ability to collaborate with others to help them get what they want. A person who wants to build relationships does not need to think only of other people.

Finally, the entrepreneur highlighted the importance of having fun while building relationships. A lot of people have given "networking" a stuffy connotation. Many individuals do not think of it as being an enjoyable activity, but as a necessity. Hoffman suggests remembering that in a lot of cases, our most enjoyable moments have been spent with other people. This recollection could potentially get a reluctant person into the mood they need to be in to network effectively. 

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