Thursday, March 12, 2009

don't burn your bridges

A lot of people find opportunities in life through people they know.  Not having the nepotism card to play, I've been relying on personal and professional contacts to search for a job. I belong to the Advertising Women of New York group, AWNY for short. Joined about six years ago. This group has given back to me in so many ways that I can hardly keep my typing fingers from running ahead of my whirling and grateful thoughts. I’ll start with the most recent experience and digress from there.

I have always wanted to work for Google but I have never been able to get the timing right with a position and availability. Rewind to a few weeks ago, when we started researching companies we would like to work for – queue Google to the top of my list, and low and behold, they have a position. After having already worked over my resume from our resume posting, I still end up spending a whole day re-framing my experience for the position I was already well suited for.

Here’s where the network connection kicks in. I go online to the AWNY web site and search for all the members [mostly women] that work for Google. My search yields over two dozen connections with women who work at Google. I email them all. My message was simple. Hi. I don’t know you, but we are AWNY members and I’m hoping you will help out a fellow professional in this difficult employment time. Can you please circulate my resume? Note, this is not verbatim what I said, but almost ten members responded. Email message replies varied.

Got one sorry I can’t help unless I know all about you because Google has very rigid recommendation guidelines. Many women said sure thing and sent my resume along to the HR dept. The greatest number of responses gave me excellent coaching. Do this or that to your resume. Google needs to see a GPA – add it. [which I had never included before] A couple ladies even told me that my Yahoo email address wouldn’t fly and that I should be using a Gmail account. [not the biggest surprise coming from Google, but still a big ol' wow on the details]

I am sad to report that exactly one week later, an Ops person from Google People got back to me and said that they did not have a position that matched my qualifications.

[come on man, I spent a whole day directly re-positioning my resume to fit the listed position] Aside from sharing my disappointment, I wanted to share this story, because at the heart of it is a great handful of women that did all they could to help me get a job at a company I have always wanted to work at. This, dear friends, is just one of the advantages to making connections and seeing how the networks you surround yourself with can help support you!

One last shout out about AWNY. For the Givers of this world, consider becoming a Mentor. AWNY has 'em, and I got the US Marketing Manager from USA Today when I first moved into the city and was looking for guidance. For the Get-ers of this world, check out your groups to become a Mentoree and learn more about the industry and to start the hand shaking.

AWNY also has an AwEsOmE VIP Silent Auction. Until I turned thirty, this was only available to young professionals; I had a great time buying my way onto top VP's schedules. Think about it: having the opportunity to lunch with:

Carl Fremont, Executive VP/Global Director Media & Digital Marketing, Digitas
Ed O’Donnell, Senior VP Marketing, NBC
David Verklin, CEO, Carat North America
Caroline McCurdy, Director Business Development Marketing Communication, Wall Street Journal

A one-hour lunch with each one of these folks is a mind-bending experience. Wanna see what the AWNY group is about? On March 24th, they have a networking clinic, as well as a year round activities calendar. Give it some thought.

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