Network to job search. Network to broaden your mind, your skills. Network to sell. Network to market yourself… your product… your pitch… Is there anything networking can’t do? Mark Ikemoto answers the question on top of his 30+ years experience in the tech world.
When it comes to job searching advice, we’re all looking for the best. There’s no way we want to miss any opportunity that comes our way. If you are in tech, then who best to talk to than someone who’s actually got more than 30 years of job searching experience in the tech industry?
Mark Ikemoto’s background is rife with spells at prestigious companies and on impressive projects. We’re talking HP, Wind River Systems, Apple, Real Time Innovations and more.
Now, Mark is devoting himself to helping others find the right fit for their career development. He’s a Job Search and Career Coach. And he is literally a mine of information and good advice.
Thanks for agreeing to speak with us, Mark. As an expert in job search, resume, career, and a prominent interview coach, we’ll be talking together about employment and networking. So, I wanted to start with:
A lot of the accomplished people we interview have similar yet different definitions of professional networking. How do you define networking for yourself?
Professional networking is all about asking for favors. Asking for favors from people who don’t know you is not easy. You need to establish trust and empathy first. Most networking advice says to take time, months or even years, to do this. How can you do this faster? There are speed networking events. But what if you wanted to call up someone you don’t know and establish trust and empathy in one cold-call short conversation? It may be possible. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.
Now, thinking of the world of career development and job search, your speciality, do you find networking holds a special place or a specific function?
Networking allows you to bring other people’s minds, thoughts, and ideas into your head, too. But much more quickly. And interactively.
You have only one mind with one set of thoughts. Imagine having two or three or more minds in your head. You could read books, watch videos, etc. to expand your mind. Networking allows you to bring other people’s minds, thoughts, and ideas into your head, too. But much more quickly. And interactively.
You’ve enjoyed quite a rich career yourself, full of impressive projects, and probably with some serious challenges on the way I would guess. Is there one that comes to mind you’d like to share to job searchers out there?
As a job searcher, you have a fundamental question to ask yourself: Should I go up the ladder, or go sideways, or do both at different times? Should I be a generalist or a specialist? I am mainly a generalist. I like learning new things across different subjects. My work life has always been fun. I look back at my tech career and can’t believe how many fun, crazy experiences I’ve had. Just by being flexible, being a generalist.
Think about when you get to the END of your career, when you retire. What do you want to remember? What do you want to be remembered for?
Which brings up another important challenge: We get so caught up in the middle of our lives with job searching and career development. Think about when you get to the END of your career, when you retire. What do you want to remember? What do you want to be remembered for?
Since I’ve retired from my tech career, I realize now that retirement leaves a big hole in one’s life. If you’re doing active planning during your career, you may want to steer your career so that you’ll have more work-oriented options when you get to the end of your career. Career-planning for retirement 😊 . Think about consulting. Or teaching. Or even plan for moving down the corporate or career ladder to a less challenging position that will give you more personal time to enjoy semi-retirement more.
Then, what 2 or 3 networking tips would you give someone job searching?
1. Don’t give up trying to learn and use networking. Read books, articles. Network with other people for their advice on how to network. Your networking skills will also serve you well in other parts of your work life and personal life.
As the job searcher, you have to lead the conversation. You have to know what you want from this total stranger you are talking to. You have to prepare and practice.
2. Too many people have contacted me and said “I’m looking for a job doing XYZ. Can you help me?” I say “Okay, what do you need from me?” Silence. As the job searcher, you have to lead the conversation. You have to know what you want from this total stranger you are talking to. You have to prepare and practice.
Otherwise, you might as well just post your questions/requests on LinkedIn 😉.
I’d like to conclude our interview with a deeper insight in your expertise, the interview. Firstly, is the networking that leads to an interview part of the interview process in a way?
Yes! Exactly. Networking is part of the interview process. Every networking encounter IS an interview process of sorts.
And secondly, how would you say the interview is changing, adapting, or maybe even evolving to fit the new work reality?
Interviewing is the most time-consuming, most-expensive phase of the hiring process. It is a natural target for tech attempts to improve it:
- An example is coding tests for tech engineering jobs. These are even being given to candidates for non-engineering jobs such as first-level management positions, project management positions, and program management positions.
- And even coding tests are being administered using automated coding test software.
- Even entire interviews are being handled by AI and non-AI automated interview software. It is a brave new world.
The work reality has also changed because of the pandemic. Interviewing has adapted quickly. Video interviews are typical.
But as interviewing has changed quickly to adapt, people are still adapting slowly. For example, there are many people out there who have their laptop video cameras pointed toward their ceiling where a ceiling fan is spinning around. I am amazed that interviewers don’t get motion sick or annoyingly distracted seeing the candidate’s face with a ceiling fan spinning wildly behind it 😊.
The future will offer us more efficiency. But maybe we won’t get the chance of discovering a candidate really worthwhile and unique.
Well, thanks for all that, Mark. You’ve really given us food for thought. I sincerely hope many of us take the time to hear your words. And perhaps there will be less people left, as you say, with a big hole in their life. You truly do seem fulfilled in your new role in life, accompanying and supporting others in their professional development. It’s a tribute to both your skills and knowledge.
If you are looking for more insights and wisdom on career development in tech, make sure you visit Mark’s LinkedIn page and drop him a message. Just prepare a bit. As Mark pointed out, no one can help you unless you have an idea of what you need.
Intch is building more than just business knowledge, it’s building business practices. Join us on Intch. You’ll get access to our community of thousands of professionals from around the globe ready to do you favors and introduce you to other professionals relevant to your requests.
I’m impressed with these words. Thanks!
I did work with a coach once – and it’s true, thy help you focus on what matters. What you want to do when you’re retired is a great question to ask yourself
Ok, Now I want to book a coaching session!
Great point about interviews – they are the most time-consuming thing ever but they are inevitable. If people could get their messages across more efficiently, we would all save a bunch of time
He has a point on knowing what you need when you network – there is nothing more annoying than showing up in someone’s DMs without a clue of what you’d like from the other person and I see a lot of it