home »

dear headhunter columns »

career insider columns »

syndicated newspapers »

internet/on-line readership »

the buzz about George »

biography/references »

order advice/order book »

send email »

career insider

The Career Do-Not-Call List

Do not ask the following people for help!

Networking is the most popular advice given to job seekers and career builders alike. It suggests it is the “who,” not the “what,” you know that really matters. This advice is dependable and valid when properly implemented. Networking can be your biggest career asset.

There is a negative flip side to the networking coin. You may be excluded from receiving network assistance and not know it. The following points may help you identify if you are on someone's “do not call-do not help list.” The tips are to help you evaluate and fix if you have this problem.


You're not receiving your normal e-mails as expected. You missed a department meeting because someone forgot to copy you. You're getting that uncomfortable gut feeling of being out-of-the-loop. If you are uncertain, trust your gut. Do your peers view you as a “taker and not a team player? Are you the last to know about company changes?

TIP: Maintain a balance of giving and taking. Always offer to help others by sharing your expertise and networking contacts. Be proactive. Don't look the other way when a co-worker is in need. You create extra value for yourself by offering your help before being asked. Try to create networking IOU's that you can call inlater when help is needed.


After months or even years of neglect, you call an old friend. After a few minutes of small talk and updates on the latest events, you ask for help. Are you transparent? Do you call only when you need something?

TIP: Direct contact either in-person or by phone is the best avenue to maintain your contacts. It has never been easier to keep in touch since the advent of e-mail. Try to make contact with at least one person a week in your network pool. A simple e-mail containing a news item, quote, cartoon, etc. . . stating, “When I saw this, I thought of you. I hope all is well, keep in touch.” If there is no e-mail connection available, a voicemail can create a similar effect. Snail-mail is not your best option, but will still create that updated contact for you.


The headhunters are not calling like they used to. Now, you're not getting your messages returned. Even after sending a new resume, no one calls to update your file. Have you been uncooperative about giving information on yourself in the past? Have you been reluctant to give referrals when a recruiter called?

TIP: Building and maintaining an on-going relationship with a recruiter is a vital endeavor. If you are currently a hiring manager, make personal contact with the recruiters working your search. If possible, give them more business or other contacts within your company. Don't wait until you're not working to start networking. Referring quality people and supplying leads to recruiters will create a future payback for you.

PLEASE NOTE: emails received become the property of "Dear Headhunter" and may be published unless otherwise requested. Questions may be edited for content and length. All questions will be reviewed, some without a reply.

George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.