The musings of a previously unemployed Jewish Freemason. I write about the job search, about Judaism, and about Freemasonry.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Job hunting again: LinkedIn for Masons

My work contract ends at the end of October. I'm in job-hunting mode again. I work with Health Level 7 (HL7), a data protocol for transferring medical data over the Internet. In my last two jobs, I built and maintained data routes that pumped HL7 ADT (admit, discharge, transfer) data from hospitals and medical clinics to data centers.

I have a BA in Creative Writing and Literature, and an MS in Mathematics and Computer Science, with a Pure Mathematics focus. I have taught math at the high school and college levels, edited math textbooks and websites with mathematical content, maintained and customized document recognition software before doing what I currently do. Even though medical data skills are in high demand these days, I'm willing to consider other career paths.

I'm going to make a plug for LinkedIn, a website that helps with job networking. I have a profile there, and I've already found a few nibbles. One feature that really helps with networking is their Groups feature. Join as many groups as you can. Here's why.

On LinkedIn, if you add someone as a contact, but they reject you as a contact, you get a black mark on your record (they think you're a spammer). Get enough black marks, and you can't add contacts without presenting their email addresses. Get more, and you get kicked off the site. Thus anyone you add as a contact without their permission can hurt your reputation on the site. That's not a bad thing, but one has to be careful cold-calling people, even people who might be good to network with. If your target is a contact of yours, you can freely communicate with them. If they are a contact of a contact of yours, or a contact of a contact of a contact of yours ( 2 or 3 deep), you can get an introduction through your contracts. Otherwise they are out of reach.

But if you both belong to a Group, you can contact them within the group. There are dozens of masonic groups, Scottish Rite groups, Shriners groups, Jewish groups, Therapy Dog groups (my dog is a Therapy Dog through Therapy Dogs International), alumni groups, professional groups, even fans of different operating systems, computer languages, sports teams, you name it. You can search for people in your field through your group connections. You can even look for jobs, and see if anyone from your groups or contacts works there.

Masonic etiquette: I've heard other masons say that they add any mason as a contact who asks them to. This is commendable if due trial, strict examination, and lawful information has been gathered about the contact. The internet has its cowans, and the Recession has people looking for any angle to get a new job, so brothers are advised to be careful. If you see a network target who has masonica on his LinkedIn page, and you share a group together (especially a masonic group), it's not unreasonable to send him a message like "Brother A.B.: I am a brother at <lodge> Lodge #n in <town>, <state>, and I noticed that our career interests overlap. Please consider adding me as a contact. If you know of any employment opportunities that match my skill set, I hope you will consider me. Sincerely and Fraternally, Brother <you>."

Some groups ask you state your lodge, your office in that lodge if any, and maybe answer some questions from the lectures before allowing you to join them, or they might write to your lodge secretary to see if you are a current member. That's a good thing. You want them to tyle their group properly. The group might take a week or so before adding you. That's not cause for alarm.

If you want to add me as a contact, use the email form on this blog page to contact me. Good luck and good fortune to all of us.
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1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth I totally agree. I'm always sympathetic to those out there job hunting (I was in the same boat myself a few months ago), but people who just blindly send me LinkedIn requests when I have zero idea who they are are likely to get a rejection. If you're in a group with me - have we communicated at all? Do I 'know' you in *any* reasonable sense of the word?

    I realize I'm stricter than most, but generally I try to use the rule of thumb that if I wouldn't be comfortable referring someone for a job, they don't belong on my LinkedIn contacts list.

    There are all manner of other social networks for people I just *know* in one sense or another. so IMO it pays to be somewhat selective.

    I'm in the Freemasons group on LinkedIn as well, and there has been a fair bit of back and forth about what's kosher to post and what's not.

    I must admit I'm finding myself a bit skeptical of the usefulness of the group in a forum like that where self policing is difficult at best, but perhaps if people took some of your excellent suggestions to heart we could all get something meaningful out of it.

    Good luck with your search and see you at lodge!