You may have heard (possibly even from this blog) that networking is key to breaking into the quantum field, other tech industries, and a bunch of other careers as well. What you may or may not have heard is that there is a right way to network and a wrong way to network. I think so many people press the importance of networking from a really young age without mentioning that if you do it poorly, this can actually hurt your chances of attaining a desired role. I hope this short blog will serve as a useful framework that will help you make more meaningful connections.
Let's start with a couple SUPER common mistakes people make.
Don't reach out to a hiring manager with a question that is answered in the job posting.
For example, don't message someone advertising a job and ask, "hey, is this role part time?" if it clearly states in the job description that the role is indeed, part time. This reminds me of students who email their professors constantly with questions that are answered in the syllabus. It drives them crazy. I understand people get excited about opportunities but the least you can do to respect the hiring teams' time is to thoroughly read the job description.
If something in the job description is truly unclear that is a different story. Asking clarifying questions is fine, as long as you point out exactly what is confusing to you.
Example: Dear so and so, I saw your post for XYZ job and noticed in the job posting it said the candidate could work remotely. Could I work from a different country or would this be excluded?
I get a lot of people who basically write me a huge cover letter introducing themselves to me and telling me why they are perfect for my job for me just to respond with "i'm sorry but you are not eligible for this job." You will save your time and mine by making sure you carefully read the role description before attempting to connect.
2. Don't ask questions with overly obvious answers
Again, this is similar to the one above, but this is just not good networking. If you write someone a personal message asking them a question that is "google-able" they probably won't find it endearing. They will more likely think, "why didn't this person just google that?" That's not how you want to make a first impression as it implies a lack of independence.
3. Don't ask if you can apply for a role
Just apply. I have literally never told a single person who asked me if they can apply for one of my job postings 'no' when they ask. This is a waste of time.
However, this doesn't answer the question of is it worth your time to apply. If what you really want to ask is "am I qualified for the role?" that is an entirely different question. In general I don't tell people who reach out to me they are under-qualified unless they are VASTLY out of consideration. You do not need to have every single desired qualification to apply to a role! If a role says they are looking for a PhD -level candidate but you have a masters degree and relevant experience, apply away! BUT if they role says they are looking for a PhD-level researcher and you don't have a high school degree I will kindly let you know you will not be considered. There is a fine line here that can mostly be realized with common sense.
4. Don't send your CV through social media in lieu of an official application
While I find great candidates on social media all the time, I am constantly telling them that I cannot hire them by simply sending me a CV on LinkedIn or Twitter. You still have to officially apply to the role in order to receive an offer! I think it's easiest to just forward a CV to a hiring manager after you have already applied officially through some job portal. That way when your name appears on the other end it is easy for the hiring manager to recognize and pass through to the next round.
5. Don't be mean/rude/assuming/dismissive/condescending
It's weird I have to say this. Look I know job hunting is super frustrating and I really do sympathize but nobody is going to want to go the extra mile to get you hired if you seem like a jerk.
Something else that almost falls under this category is when people send a zoom link and say "let me know when we can chat." It isn't necessarily rude, but it does assume they have time for you. The invitation to talk further face to face should come from the hiring team.
Ok enough of that. Now let's talk about what works.
Reach out to the hiring manager or team with any specific questions you have about the role
These types of questions are never annoying unless they are already answered in the job description. See #1 above. Asking good questions makes a good impression.
2. Send out your CV with a quick note about why you are interested/excited about the role
When you do this you it's best to mention you have already applied. You can also connect a specific skill or experience on your CV to the role.
3. Good networking can/should happen before you are asking for a job
When hiring managers post jobs they usually will think of their current network and try to see if anyone they already know would be a good fit. I'm never bothered by students or contacts reaching out to me with good questions, sincere interest, or a quick thank you (in fact this last one usually makes my day).
That's all I have for now, but if you think of anything I may have missed let me know. Happy networking!