COVID-19: How To Capitalize On It To Create A Endless Flow of Career Opportunities in HR

By Alan Collins

The current COVID-19 crisis reminds me of a phone call I had a year ago.

It was with an awesome former HR boss of mine.  He called me out of the blue, just to chat and catch up.

No strings attached.

We had forged a great relationship when I reported to him years ago at Quaker Oats.

We’re both Purdue University alums. We both love professional sports and are avid bikers. So we’ve always had lots to talk about and have kept in contact over the years.

So it was great to hear from him.

In the course of our hour-long conversation, which was sprinkled with tons of gossip and sports talk, he gave me some great ideas.

One idea was for my upcoming book.  Another was for three articles that I ended up writing about. It was like he flipped on a light switch in my head, just like he used to do as my manager back in the day.

Again, he did this with no strings attached and with no other agenda other than to be helpful. 

Our discussion was so valuable, I immediately thought about what I could offer in return.

Then it hit me. During our talk, he revealed that he was having vision problems and thinking about cataract surgery.

Having had this kind of major surgery myself, I gave him the phone number of my doctor, a phenomenal retina specialist, who I knew could refer him to a top specialist located closer to him.

That morning, I also emailed him a few helpful articles about the surgery.

A week later, he left me a voicemail thanking me profusely. 

And asked me if I knew of anyone available to fill an HR senior director’s role for a consulting client of his.

Years ago, I would have crawled through broken glass for this job.  But today, it was terrific job lead for someone else in my network.

So, I passed it on to her…who wound up, as a result, interviewing for this job and landed it a few weeks later!   

And it struck me that…

What started as a casual call to catch up
ended up benefiting three people – me,
my former boss and the person in my
network that got that job.  

But more importantly, it also hit me that…

Everything I just described
represents how to leverage the
power of your network
during this
crisis while we’re all stuck at home!

And all it requires is following this simple process…

  1. Reach out to connect with someone in your tribe.
  2. Listen to what they need and provide help, where you can. This could be a helpful contact, job lead, article, resume or referral and the like.
  3. Genuinely do this with no other agenda in mind other than to be helpful. Don’t expect anything back in return.

Then sit back and allow this to activate the principle of reciprocity.  

This powerful principle says that anytime someone gives you something you weren’t expecting, it naturally inspires them to look to return the favor to YOU in some way, because somehow they feel emotionally indebted and obligated to even the score.

The “good karma” you generate will cause this favor to be returned to you down the road – maybe NOT from this person – and maybe NOT even right away – and maybe NOT even from places you might would expect.

But it WILL happen at some point. 

But here’s the catch:

At least that’s been my experience.

So how do you make this powerful principle work for you?  Well, there are two simple steps to follow:

Step 1:  Reach out to your top tier relationships.  

List out the 20 most important professional contacts in your life right now.

These are the folks you want to connect or re-connect with first. Typically these are former colleagues, customers, clients, mentors, bosses or someone who’s helped you make valuable connections.

These are the contacts whose presence in your life has been clearly valuable to your career.

These aren’t people you don’t just send a holiday cards to, these are folks you talk two or three times a year. They know you well.

And you should know what their interests are too.

Text them.
Call them up.
Facetime or Skype them.

Share with them you’re doing.

But then spend the bulk of your time finding out their desires and concerns.

The chances are high that you’ll be able to find something worthwhile you can help them with.

But that’s not all.

You’ll also want to go farther with…

Step 2:  Take a look at your secondary relationships.

This second group might consist of 50 to 100 contacts.  

These are people you might not know well enough to socialize with, but you occasionally receive e-mail, texts or phone messages from them.

You may have worked closely with them long ago, but you’ve gotten out of touch.

Do the same thing as you did with your top tier relationships — reach out and connect with them.

Sometimes the challenge in connecting with these people is getting them to open their email, especially if you haven’t talked to them in a long time.

Like you, they’re bombarded with spam and junk mail.

So when emailing them, you may want to craft a subject line so that it stands out their sea of messages and convinces them that opening up your message is worthwhile.  

This is when checking out their LinkedIn profile comes in handy.

In looking over their profile, if you can find something specific about that person you admire or something that recently stuck out to you, you can put that in your email subject line.

It’ll show that you are sincere and have put some thought into your message (and deserve a response!).

It would look something like this:

“Congrats on your new job!  Let’s catch up!”
(for someone who just changed jobs or got promoted) 

Or this: 

Really inspired by your LinkedIn post on Employee Retention!”
(for someone who recently did something cool) 

Or simply this: 

“From [Your Name], Would Love To Catch Up!”
(for someone you’ve not talked to in a long time)

LinkedIn will not only let you know when your contacts have change jobs or gotten promoted…but also when they’ve celebrated job anniversaries or birthdays and make profile updates.

When you see these updates pop up, email your connections to convey your good wishes in regards to the occasion.

This can easily ignite conversations that allow you to connect on a deeper level.

And to build on the relationship from there.

Here’s the bottom line on all this…

The COVID-19 crisis has provided the perfect time for you to think long term.  By that I mean…

Even if you’re not urgently job searching
or at risk of losing your HR job due to
this pandemic, what you do NOW can
have a major impact on the career
opportunities that flow your
way once this crisis is over! 

Let me be even more specific.

If you’re looking to attract a continuous stream of opportunities – HR job leads, consulting gigs, influential business contacts and helpful information — seize this time we’re all going through right now to nurture your relationships and deepen the engagement with your network.

However…

Do it with an emphasis on
GIVING FIRST!

Obviously, you should be keeping relationships warm by networking all the time, even if you are happily employed or considered indispensable in your organization.

But this current COVID-19 crisis provides you with the perfect time to reach out and connect.  Many of the people in your network are hurting, need help and may be more available now than they’ve ever been before.

I predict you’ll be surprised at how many folks would just simply love to hear from you.

I also predict the instant you connect with them, it will make YOU feel good.

…And the payoff down the road may be huge! 

So make it happen.

Now.

Onward!

Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below by clicking HERE.

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If you are actively networking as part of your job search process,  there are two indispensable resources you should check out:  

HR RESUME SECRETS:  How to Create An Irresistible Human Resources Resume That Will Open Doors, Wow Hiring Managers & Get You Interviews! by CLICKING HERE.

And

HR INTERVIEW SECRETS: How to Ace Your Next Human Resources Interview, Dazzle Your Interviewers & LAND THE JOB YOU WANT!  For more details go HERE.

About the Author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling HR books including:  HR RESUME SECRETS and  HR INTERVIEW SECRETS.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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6 Responses to “COVID-19: How To Capitalize On It To Create A Endless Flow of Career Opportunities in HR”

  1. Eileen Vernor Says:

    Alan, I love this article! You provide perfect examples of how to network appropriately and why it’s valuable. Giving first without expecting anything in return is key. Spot on as always!
    Stay well,
    Eileen

  2. Alan Says:

    Thank you, Eileen! Always great hearing from you and getting your comments. I hope all is well with you, your family and friends in the Detroit area and that you are all staying safe during all this craziness. Be well, Alan.

  3. Michele Willis Says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thank you for sending this information forward. It came just at the right time. It is greatly appreciated!

    Michele

  4. Alan Says:

    Thanks, Michele – glad you found the timing right! Stay safe.

  5. Jan Maharaj-Sookdeo Says:

    God designed us to be in relationships therefore we thrive well with others. Excellent advice for anybody in any industry.

  6. Alan Says:

    Great point, Jan! Applicable to ANYONE. ANYTIME. ANYWHERE. No matter how little or how much experience you have. Stay safe.

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