Networking FTW! Or how to get a job in 11 easy steps

How to get a cool job while living in Paradise:

Step 1:  Send out dozens of carefully crafted applications to highly selected jobs that interest you, culled from want ads from a number of sources (

Step 2:  Get a few phone interviews and an in-person interview for a job you’d really like that goes to second round.  After a long wait, fail to get those jobs.

Step 3:  Decide maybe it’s time to apply for jobs that aren’t quite as much up your alley.  Carefully craft individualized applications for job openings you find via want-ads and company pages but secretly hope you don’t get that consulting job (which is highly paid but uninteresting and will probably eat your soul in less than 2 years).

Step 4:  Mention to the extroverted wife of someone you went to high school with that you’re looking for a position.

Step 5:  Said wife notes that their kid goes to preschool with another kid whose mom is a PhD in your field working in a job that sounds exactly like the kind of job you want.  She puts you in touch.

Step 6:  It turns out that although kid’s mom has a job that is like one you would want, the mom doesn’t actually have a PhD in your field, but her husband does.  He sends an email to say hi and says they’re looking for someone right now where he works.  He sends you a want ad for a position just like the one you want (that you are overqualified for) at the center where he works.  Only catch: cutoff for applications is today (on the day that you are emailing).

Step 7:  Thankfully, the salary range is posted right in the ad.  Decide it is ok and apply for said job at 4:16pm on day applications close.

Step 8:  Just a few days later, receive enthusiastic phone call from founder of center, asking you to come in a few days from now.  Nail interview with the amazing guy who runs the center.  It is conversational and does not include dumb interview questions like “what is your biggest weakness?”.  He talks about how, if you got this job, you could increase your income above the stated range by doing various things.  The base salary is hard money (not dependent on grants).  Hours are flexible.  Like things more and more.

Step 9:  Have a great time on the informal second-round interviews, talking with the other PhDs working at the center.  Answer lots of questions about why it’s ok that you’re overqualified.  Note that they’ve started mentioning things you want to do that are outside the scope of the originally advertised job description, like mentoring graduate students and writing grants to increase your salary (which, although low for a PhD in your field, is still higher than what you were making as a tenured associate prof in Blasted Wasteland).

Step 10:  Have your references give you glowing recommendations when the center guy calls them.  Also have them tell you that the guy who runs the center has a reputation in the field for being a great mentor.  He is hiring his trainees and former students to grow the center.  Some members have worked with him for 15 years.

Step 11:  Do a happy dance when you get the job offer on the phone!  Look sort of like a chicken/’80s dancer.  Pump fist in air, go “Eeeee”.  Have 30-minute conversation with institute founder in which he is already more respectful about your skills and expertise than your previous 2 bosses.

~~~~now have job!~~~~

Step 12: Inquire with HR person about benefits.  They are pretty good.  Formally accept offer at top end of published range.  Your new office (with door!) is shared with 1 other person and a fantastic view out the big window.  Your new email is set up right away.

Step 12a:  HR person sends you offer letter via email.  An hour later you get another email: Please disregard that offer letter and use this one instead.  The center director has begged Provost for increase in your base salary; this new letter has the increased salary.  Pay is now above the posted range in the job ad, and is a number you feel much happier about (#2:  A number that is more than my engineering PhD DH was making when he was on the tenure track…).  Accept that one and print it out real quick.  Start telling friends & family you got job (#2 said YAY!).  Converse with staff about what kind of laptop you want.  Get lunch invitation for your first day at work.  Feel like a ROCKSTAR.  Send grateful messages to people who served as references.  Discover that all your friends in the field happen to know your new boss, and say he is phenomenal, influential, and a great mentor.  Keep feeling more rockstar-y all the time.

Step 13:  Hash out benefit contributions and household finances with partner (future post!).  Fall asleep on floor while trying to read book before bed.  Start new job 5 days after offer.

Congratulate me in the comments below!  After over a year with no job I was starting to feel nervous about the growing gap in my CV.  Hang in there, job searchers.

55 Responses to “Networking FTW! Or how to get a job in 11 easy steps”

  1. inbabyattachmode Says:

    Congrats!! You’re totally a rockstar!! Also, I will follow those steps exactly and expect to have an awesome job asap!

  2. taylorqlee Says:

    Woot, congrats! Sounds like you found an awesome position. Maybe it’s a sign you should stay in Paradise forever. ;)

  3. Zenmoo Says:

    Congratulations!! Hurrah!!! Hooray!!!

  4. NessieMonster Says:

    Yayyyy! Congratulations! What fantastic news!

  5. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    Congrats! I hope it’s everything you wanted and more!!!!!

  6. Leah Says:

    Congrats! How exciting :-)

    I’ve heard job seeking advice that one should tell every single person they know that they’re looking for a job, because things like this often happen. People like to help out people they know. This is the upside to chatting a lot.

  7. CG Says:

    That’s great news! And so easy to follow those steps. :) Hope it continues on its already promising path.

  8. Leigh Says:

    Yay!!! Networking is the best for finding a job :)

  9. bogart Says:

    Congratulations! Woohoo!

  10. Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

    Hurray. Congrats. Networking is everything…..and not your stereotypical way (by shaking hands and kissing babies). Every interaction is a potential opportunity to open a door. Every job husband and I have ever gotten has been a result of a network. Even my very first job out of college, the hiring manager used to eat at the restaurant I waitressed at and that somehow bonded us more than other candidates.

    Networking isn’t about fake being friends with people. It’s just giving others the opportunity to get to know you better and vice versa. I love bringing people together and you never know when it will be payed forward by another person.

    I’m doing a little happy dance for you.

  11. Miser Mom Says:

    More YAAAAYYYs! (I’m jet-lagged right now, or I’d say something more coherent — but thanks for the happy way to start waking up my brain!)

  12. Ana Says:

    Hooray! congrats! And good advice, too!

  13. Flavia Says:

    OMG, congrats! The internetz all do a happy dance on your behalf.

  14. Norwegian Forest Cat Says:

    WOOO! Congrats on the new job! Hoping it’s everything you hoped for and then some. :)

  15. jane Says:


  16. xykademiqz Says:

    YEYYEYYEYYEYYEYYEEEEEEEY! Congratulations! This is wonderful news. Best of luck.

  17. chacha1 Says:

    [flailing Kermit arms]

  18. middle_class Says:

    Congratulations! Does this mean you get to stay in Paradise??!!

  19. Cloud Says:

    Congrats!!! That is awesome. And yes, networking rules as a job search strategy. I’m glad it worked out for you!

  20. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    See, isn’t this well worth pushing #2’s commuting post to Tuesday?

  21. the frugal ecologist Says:

    Congratulations! You are awesome!!

  22. Debbie M Says:

    Woo hoo! Happy dance, indeed!

    It really stinks that steps #1-3 don’t work as well as networking. I mean is this company really more confident in you as a referral than in “unknown” applicants even when it’s their guy’s wife’s kid’s friend’s mom husband who can vouch for how you were in high school? (Obviously, I don’t get networking.)

    Well, who cares today? You beat the system! And everybody is going to win! Congratulations!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #2: It is kind of ridiculous when you put it that way. But I think in this case it wasn’t the “for how you were in high school” but the “yes, you want this job even though you’re overqualified.” And, I suspect that #1 would have had a solid shot at this job even without that vouching, but she didn’t know to look for the posting.

      • Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

        So question….What did you learn from the missing the posting bit? Where should have you been looking for jobs that you were not? (on company websites for example, linked in, headhunters, where?) Curious minds want to know.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #2 here: AFAIK, the only job posting was on the webpage for the center. That #1 did not know existed. She did look at lots of center websites for various places in the area, but not this specific one.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Good point on even multi-linked networks providing confirmation about information that looks like it might be iffy. Thanks!

  23. Aurora Says:

    That’s awesome!

  24. becca Says:

    A) Congrats!
    B) I think the lesson of steps 1-3 is to have a resume that is worth sending out that won’t take you more than a day to prep!
    C) important to remember how hard new-job in new-city can be and still have everything turn out well

  25. Kellen Says:

    Congratulations! It helps to network with other people who network :) It sounds like an awesome position!

  26. Life of a Fool Says:

    Congratulations! So happy it is working out so well (even if it took awhile). Good luck with the new start!

  27. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Thank you to everyone. Ironically I couldn’t respond to comments on this blog because I was at the new job. :)

  28. ralucacoldea Says:

    Go you! And Woohooo!

  29. NoTrustFund Says:

    A belated congratulations! I’m so happy for you.

  30. Astra Says:

    Congrats! I’m in a similar situation and it’s hard. I’m glad to hear you have found your place.

  31. JaneB Says:

    Congratulations! Hope it continues wonderful!

  32. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Thanks again. The job looks TURBO interesting so far.

  33. crazy grad mama Says:

    Congratulations!! That’s fantastic!

  34. Insect Biologist Says:

    Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s good for quiet, slightly anti-social people like myself to be reminded of the amazing value of networking. I’m sure that you’ve just given some optimism to some discouraged job seekers!

  35. Name Under Development Says:


  36. MutantSupermodel Says:

    OMG HOORAY! I can’t wait to hear updates about New Rockstar Job!

  37. Alyssa Says:

    WOW – Congrats! Thanks for sharing, because I needed to see a good story about job searching!

  38. What Now? Says:

    A belated hip-hip-hooray! Congratulations!

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