What is Networking for Work?

Networking for Work is a new training programme from Talk About Local that empowers unemployed people take control of how they appear online. Networking for Work helps jobseekers present themselves better to employers using simple blogs, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, etc. and also protect themselves from unscrupulous employers Googling and Facebooking for non-professional information.  Networking for Work, based on our experience of working in some of the most deprived and isolated communities in the UK will also cover some real digital basics such as getting a proper email address, having a professional voicemail greeting.

Recent research showed that 77% of recruiters said they used search engines to find background data on candidates, 35% admitted they eliminated a candidate because of what they found online.  82% of candidates expected recruiters to check out their names on a search engine, yet only 33% bothered to search for information on themselves, to see what their prospective employer might find out. (Execunet, The Guardian 12 April 2011)

This research was biased towards  white collar managerial  jobs. Talk About Local’s experience of grass roots web training suggests the proportion of self-searching to be substantially less in lower skilled work.

How does the Networking for Work training work?

The Networking for Work training, is being developed and tested with unemployed people, trainers of job seekers and potential employers. We shall licence materials for use by training providers under permissive creative commons licences. Networking for Work training will be informal, engaging and fun to take part in.  People will be able to use the Networking for Work training materials on their own online or in a group in say a back-to-work session.

The Networking for Work training programme will consist of three steps:

  • Taking control of your online persona – looking at your current online presentation and profiles and working to alter or build upon these to present yourself better to potential employers
  • In your own words – creating an effective online profile, using freely available online platforms to demonstrate as well as state skills, knowledge and experience.
  • New networks – Building up your online network of former colleagues, contacts and people you know who are in work to help form a basic support network.
Photo by Laurence Hardy

Photo by Laurence Hardy

How will Networking for Work benefit unemployed people?

We shall help people who are seeking work by:

  • Giving them a modern set of skills appropriate to presenting yourself online in 2012
  • Protecting them from potential discrimination by employers who might use information found online inappropriately, particularly about peoples’ social lives or backgrounds
  • Generating self confidence through expression in new media
  • Helping people learn and connect with others as they seek work, avoiding common pitfalls

 How will Networking for Work benefit organisations?

We shall help employers by:

  • Giving their new staff better online skills that they can deploy when they come to work

We shall help companies/organisations who train job seekers by:

  • Giving them a free, modern tool for their product set

We shall help companies downsizing or workers’ representatives by:

  • Giving novel materials for their exiting staff to work through
  • Preserving some of the local social and corporate memory of the organisation

Where can I see the results of Networking for Work training?

We have already delivered Networking for Work pilot training sessions with Midland Heart’s Burslem job club and Birmingham Settlement’s Aston job club, the outcomes of which can be viewed on our blog.

We are committed to transparency and our training reportage of past and future sessions will reflect on our failures as well as successes as we develop, test and adjust the training materials. The training resources we develop can be viewed on the Resources page.

I think Networking for Work would benefit the group/s I’m currently working with. How would I go about facilitating this training?

Keep and eye on this website as we publish materials and the discussion evolves.  You can contact us if you would like to run some experimental sessions or already do something similar and would like to share.  We can deliver training sessions directly to groups (such as job clubs) and train trainers already working in the community, offering webinars and face-to-face opportunities.  We expect a proportion of trainees will progress to become peer mentors or trainers themselves, using the transferable skills they have developed through participating in Networking for Work.

Networking for Work aims to maximise its reach by making the resources and materials we develop available under a permissive creative commons licence. The largest companies will be charged a small fee to cover the costs of maintaining the product.

The training materials we develop will be presented as both online self-guided and for classroom/group use. Large training providers will be able to white label the web components.

To find out more, view the Working with us page or just drop us a line via hello@talkaboutlocal.org (or a variety of other methods) and the team will get in touch.