-4

I know most of the questions here are related to workplace, but still this is the most relevant SE community for this question.

I am a graduate student in Europe finishing a PhD programme (in engineering), and in a few months I plan to depart from academia for a job in industry. It seems that most positions that are suitable for PhDs are never advertised, and are secured through networking or headhunting. It appears that I need to use the same channels.

My project is quite a practical one, which has a benefit that I am regularly in contact with quite a few people from companies, which do related work and present good options for employment. For example, a programmer from a company is interested about a paper my colleagues and I published, and visits me at my department for a quick chat. Also I am a member of a few professional organisations and attend different events where companies are present. As a grad student, I don’t think that I could do more when it comes to networking.

Despite all this, unfortunately I did not yet benefit from job offers. Explicitly asking for employment possibilities at some companies I favour resulted in vague discussions. It could really be about that I am just not interesting for them, but I have two explanations about this:

  • I am talking mostly to “regular” staff, and it seems that they don’t care, and don’t see hiring as their task. That is, it doesn’t occur to them that “this guy is good, does what we do, why don’t we hire him?”
  • They could be feeling threatened about competent people coming to their department.

I am a bit confused how to proceed to secure a job. I thought that maybe I made the mistake of not reaching out to senior staff, such as managers. My question is: how to reach the right people in companies who take hiring decisions and to prompt them to offer a job?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Lilienthal, The Wandering Dev Manager, gnat, Jane S Jan 3 '16 at 3:38

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 7
    You don't talk to (senior) people at a company in the hopes that they'll just offer you a job. You get job offers by applying to job openings and then making it through all the rounds of the hiring process on the strength of your skills and experience. You seem to have the wrong idea about what networking means and what it's useful for. Voted to close as unclear as I think you're working from a faulty premise. – Lilienthal Jan 2 '16 at 14:37
  • Duplicate of - workplace.stackexchange.com/q/37053/2322? – enderland Jan 2 '16 at 23:30
  • 1
    @Lilienthal the two methods are not exclusive - and people do indeed get job offers that were never posted, as a result of interactions with the right people. This question is valid since the OP doesn't know how this happens or what to do that might increase the chances of it happening. There is more to job getting than applying to openings – Kate Gregory Jan 3 '16 at 14:35
  • @KateGregory Agreed, but comments are only so long and I wanted to avoid answering a question that needs a lot of improvement. What I was referring to is that you can indeed build a solid professional network that can lead to job offers, but those are typically the result of having actually worked with the people in your network. They can attest to your skills and experience and identify opportunities, bypassing a typical hiring/application process. None of that applies to a graduate which is what I mean when I said that the OP got networking wrong. – Lilienthal Jan 3 '16 at 14:46
7

I am talking mostly to “regular” staff, and it seems that they don’t care, and don’t see hiring as their task. That is, it doesn’t occur to them that “this guy is good, does what we do, why don’t we hire him?”

That's because it's not their job. If you were to ask me such a thing, I would point you in the direction of my employer's web site, where job opportunities are posted.

They could be feeling threatened about competent people coming to their department.

If you ever find a company where the employees take that attitude, then you don't want to work there. Most staff want to work with competent employees.

Talking to the boss is only likely to work at small companies where there is one boss who makes hiring decisions. At big organisations, employing new staff will follow a well-defined process. This is likely to be along the lines of:-

  1. Identify that you have a staff or skills shortage.
  2. Define the skills you want from a new employee.
  3. Advertise the position, and see who applies.

Managers don't just create new jobs just because someone talked to them at an event.

3

It is most definitely true that some people get jobs that are never posted, and do so because of contacts within a company. In fact, I experienced that myself as a student. I was completing a second work term (4 month internship) and the person I was developing software for asked me what I wanted to do when I graduated and what my dream job would be. I thought we were just chatting, and I told him. Shortly after that he gave me an offer letter for just what I wanted. I hadn't even realized what was happening.

Now, can you make this happen? Probably not. I was extremely good at what I did (not saying you're not, but saying this is an avenue for extremely good, not for ok or even very good) and my contact was an HR manager. He looked over the plan for the next few months and years and offered me a position that they promoted someone else out of to make it available. If your contact is with someone who's building a piece of hardware or software, or developing a marketing plan, or organizing logistics, they won't be able to do that sort of thing singlehandledly.

If you're amazing, the person who works with you can get a lot of brownie points in the company by landing you. They will want to alert someone to their discovery. If you're good, and you explicitly ask them to help you work there, they might. But if you start talking to managers above this person trying to get them excited and claiming your contact thinks you're good, the manager will almost certainly be thinking "if you're so good, why didn't that person come and tell me about you?"

Do apply to any jobs you see at the company. Do tell your contacts "I would love to work here after I graduate" and ask them what you need to do about that. Do pick up on any conversations about future work, offer to send resumes, apply online, whatever people want. Luck is a marvelous thing and can't be forced, but neither will it do everything for you every time.

1

Explicitly asking for employment possibilities at some companies I favour resulted in vague discussions.

Asking contacts about general "employment possibilities" might work. But you'll have more luck if you take a different approach.

When you have a contact at a company you favor, check out their website and look for an opening. If you find one, then ask your contact about the company, the position, and if your contact would put in a good word for you. Many companies offer referral bonuses. And even when they don't, contact who think you are really good will want to recommend you.

If you aren't getting anything other than "vague discussions", then perhaps your contacts aren't as positive about you as you would hope. In that case, just apply for open positions that you find yourself, without using your network.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.