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There is no mystery to networking and you don’t have to be a Competent Toastmaster and feel at ease in groups to succeed. It’s a learned skill that is simply communicating effectively with others that may have a vested interest in your career. Networking works both ways just like any communication where you are either the sender (talker) or receiver (listener). One doesn’t work without the other.
Networking benefits both parties and if you understand this up front it tends to relieve some of the pressure when you start the process. Supervisors need competent, qualified and motivated workers and they are always looking for those who fit the bill. You are benefitting the organization when you start your outreach efforts because supervisors need to know who the qualified and interested employees are. This makes recruiting easier for supervisors since they will have a list of federal employees that she/he may be able to pick up non-competitively.
When an agency initiates a recruit action it can take months to complete the process. However, if they have a list of qualified federal employees they can make a non-competitive selection immediately. This saves supervisors considerable effort and time and it saves the agency money and resources. Current federal employees already know the system and their orientation is minimal compared to what they have to do when they hire a new employee off-the-street. You are doing the organization a favor by calling and performing informational interviews plus it shows interest and motivation on your part.
Another benefit is that supervisors can tailor an advertisement (job vacancy) to fit your particular needs. For example, if you impress the supervisor during an informational interview and they have a GS-343-9 Analyst position going out for bid, they can tailor the announcement to include your level of competence. If you only qualify for a GS-343-5 or possibly a GS-343-7 they can advertise the job at the GS-343-5/7/9 so that you could be considered. Supervisors seek out motivated workers and if you impress her/him in the interview they may take the entry level federal employee applicant over an off-the-street applicant that has no government experience. Networking can pay big dividends if used properly
Networking is ideally suited for federal employees that are exploring career options in their organization or with other agencies. When networking clicks in the federal sector you can be hired on-the-spot after HR reviews your application and qualifications. If you impress an employer they can pick you up non-competitively for jobs you qualify for up to the highest grade you held permanently. This entire book involves networking techniques and you have already compiled lists of contacts in earlier chapters. Use the Key Contact Form to annotate additional contacts as they materialize.
Developing an IDP is half the battle but without networking the IDP may fall short of your expectations. You have to look for worthwhile lateral details and seek out experiences that will expand your knowledge. Networking is used not only to find other jobs but to expand your horizons in all areas including improving interpersonal skills and to complete your career development plan. Your supervisor can direct you to resources but you must initiate the personal contacts that you need to explore viable career options and potential vacancies.
The more contacts that you make the better off you will be and you need to build on each new contact. Expand your Contact List from Chapter Six and be sure to write down their name, phone number, organization, and in the comments area note the date of contact and other relevant information. One of the keys to net-working is the Informational Interview which is presented in this chapter.