Software

Job hunting? Resist the seductive allure of e-mail ease

I spent another week networking. The

activity does not come naturally to me. Well, that's not entirely

true. I get comfortable instant messaging and emailing the people I

know rather than calling them up or going out to lunch. There is a

seductive ease in tossing off an email and adding a check to your

list. It feels remarkably like accomplishment. Unfortunately email

functions a great deal like UDP – if you don't receive a reply

there's no way to know if the other person actually interacted with

your message.

At work I control the urge with the old

standby MWA – Management by Walking Around. Nothing breaks the

IM/email shackles like getting out of the cube and speaking with

folks. I generally make it a habit to make both a morning and an

afternoon loop though the office, just to keep on top of what's going

on.

A reasonable loop becomes more complex

when I'm networking. I do not live in a densely populated metroplex,

so going for a walk would involve 30 to 40 miles a day. Frankly I

just don't walk that fast. It feels intrusive to call people more

than once or twice a week. I cannot afford to do lunch more than

twice a week with a pregnant wife and two-year old son at home. That

leaves the phone, with it's rapidly vanishing pool of minutes. A

cell-phone plan intended for low volume household conversations lacks

the capacity to deal with two professional job-searches.

Networking events and interviews help

since they give me a set time to get out and interact with others.

It gets me up and interacting with others, a definite plus in the

world of easy impersonal communication I inhabit. Unfortunately it

takes time to get such things scheduled, though I aim for at least

two each week. These will get more complicated to juggle when my

wife's search really picks up.

Snail mail gets a

workout too. I realize it's retro, but a heartfelt “Thank You”

note still strikes me as appropriate and respectful. Acknowledging the time people

give to you, especially in the activity-filled world we live in, is

always the right thing to do.

Which brings me back to

the comfortable mediums of email and instant messaging. They

certainly count as activity even if they do not quite have the

results I might like. They also do serve a valuable purpose,

providing rapid asynchronous communication with people who probably

want to help but need to do so in their own time.

So, I decided to adopt one of my old

tricks to stomp out email activity. When I decide email provides the

appropriate medium for the communication I open the communication

task on my list when I send the email. I only close the task when I

hear back from the other person. This prevents me from thinking of

the task as “complete” when it really just began. It also gives

me a handy list of outstanding communications to track.

Communication is, after all, the stuff

of life in business and in job searching. I suspect it's that way in

the rest of our lives as well though do not tell anyone I admitted

that.

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