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 TV show Cold Case made me think about how unsolved crimes may apply to career networking. I’m not talking about digging up buried bodies or new DNA testing. I know this may be a stretch, but here goes. My idea was about cold career networking contacts. Cold contact information has been lost or neglected over a long period of time. It’s intriguing how the detectives put the pieces together to solve the crime.

When we change jobs or move to a different city, we always tell everyone, "Don’t worry, we’ll keep in touch." We all try, but many fail to maintain current contact numbers. During the first couple of years, it’s easy to stay in touch because the friendships are still fresh and you can pick up the phone and reach them easily. New friends, a new city and career commitments mitigate our commitment to maintaining our old contacts. As the years pass, the contacts seem less and less important, that is, until we need them. The best time to update a contact is before you need their help finding a job.

Here are suggestions to help you solve your own cold case:

If your contact is from your former company, that’s an obvious place to start. You may have to dig through a few levels to find out who has the contact information. You might have to ask, "What person would know the person that has their current information?" If they have left the company, the Human Resources department will rarely release the information you need, if they have it. It’s uncommon for a company to update a former employee’s information. If you know the probable relocation service your contact used, they may be able to indicate the city. You will have to make numerous phone calls and be persistent and cordial at the same time. Never demand cooperation.

Make a list of all common people you both knew. Alumni members, your Christmas card list, social clubs, Chamber of Commerce, their Realtor, their next door neighbor or the person that bought their house. Parents tend to stay in place, can you find their parents? Keep your printed list with you or in your laptop. Add names as you make new source contacts. Without the list, you may forget a possible contact.

Try the high-tech search engines. Go to www.google.com and type in their name or their parents’ name. Also, try www.yahoo.com. Google and Yahoo are free. For a small fee, USsearch.com or 800-US-SEARCH will check many public documents. Finding college buddies can be effortless by using www.alumni.net or www.classmates.com.

[QUICK TIP] Don’t wait until it’s urgent to update your contacts. Always get the parents’ or siblings’ names and numbers, including cell phone numbers. Get personal e-mail addresses because their company e-mail is useless once they quit. As I have mentioned frequently in prior columns, networking through personal contacts is the most valuable avenue to get your next job. Networking referrals account for obtaining over 60 percent of job interviews!

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.