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Is Fear Wrecking Your Career?

Could it be wrecking yours, too?

Read on and see if this applies to you …

Dear Kevin,

As a job search veteran of 3 of the last 6 years, about the only thing that has worked consistently to get me jobs was somebody knowing me. When I have been introduced to someone with connections to a job opening, my success rate has been 100%. Even the interviews were a slam-dunk.

The problem? Networking takes a long time, usually 4 to 12 months! It can be very hard to stay motivated and still have faith to keep looking, following up, and such. The reason is -- I’m not a salesman, I’m a technologist. Sales people have a built-in motivator that the rest of us don’t. They’re used to getting the stiff arm and handling rejection. Most of us are not.

What are your thoughts?

Michael B.

The good news is, Michael has found a job-search method that works 100% of the time – networking. But the problem for him, and for most non-sales people, is staying motivated and handling rejection. As a result, his networking efforts are taking 4 to 12 months to produce a new job. That’s too long by at least half.

So, let’s look at how to do two things:

  1. Overcome fears of networking rejection and

  2. Find out how to network into a new job in less than 4 months.

First, let’s tackle the fear factor …

Ask yourself this: What’s the worst that could happen if you called someone to ask for a job lead?

Well, let’s see. They might hang up on you. Or call you names. Or magically jump through the phone and choke you. Is any of this likely to happen? No, no, no. So, really, the worst anyone can do to you during a networking call is … nothing. You really have nothing to fear.

It may help to keep this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche in mind: “He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how.”

Now. What is the “why” that will motivate you to bear almost any “how” -- and start making more networking calls?

Well, you could post a picture of your children next to your computer, to remind yourself of why you work. Or a picture of the Mustang GT convertible you’ll buy with your new salary. Or sit a Boss Hogg action figure ($7.95 on Ebay) next to your computer, to symbolize the county sheriff who might auction off your house if the bank forecloses. Get the idea? Get creative with this!

Once you find the right motivation, you will start making more networking calls. It’s that simple.

And once you are properly motivated, you’ll want to network as effectively as possible.


First, know that networking is a numbers game. If it takes you 12 months to get hired by making, say, 15 networking calls a week, how soon could you find work by making 150 calls per week? About 1.2 months, by my math -- less than 40 days.

All it takes is six calls an hour for five hours a day -- that’s 150 calls per working week. You can do this, especially if you ask the “magic networking question” at the end of every conversation: “Whom else do you know that I should be talking to?” This can double or triple the size of your network.

Here are two more ways to network better:

  1. Get clear on your value

    Start by revamping your resume. Quick tip: It should focus 80% on the specific results you’ve produced for employers, and only about 20% on your duties and responsibilities.

    Once your resume sparkles, you’ll have more self-confidence and find you actually look forward to networking. It’s like getting a haircut or buying a handsome new suit.

    (For more information, Google “kevin donlin focus on results” to find my past articles on how to write a results-based resume.)

  2. Get clear on the job you seek

    When you know what job you want, it’s easier for others to help you get it. When you don’t, it’s not.

    Example: You could ask your friends, “Know anybody who’s hiring?” Or you could ask, “I’m looking for a position as a plant manager at Acme, Ajax or National Widgets. Do you know anyone at any of those companies or know someone who might?”

    Now, which question do you think will produce more job leads? Clarity is powerful!

OK. Let’s review how we’ve solved our two networking problems.

First, you can overcome your fear of networking by finding the right motivation, be it a quote or a picture sitting next to your computer, or a daily phone call to a friend to hold yourself accountable. Motivation cancels out fear.

Second, you can network better by recognizing that it’s just a numbers game. If you get clear on your value and on the job you seek, you can turn more networking calls into job leads, and put the numbers in your favor.

- Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes and creator of GetHiredNow.TV. Since 1996, he has provided job search assistance to more than 10,000 people. Author of "51 Ways to Find a Job Fast -- Guaranteed," Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio and others. Check out his latest product: The Instant Job Search System