Right tone is crucial with interview acquaintances

Q: I’m going for an interview next week, and it’s a bit like going back in time. In what we will call a previous life, I knew two of the five people who will be interviewing me - one in a professional context (we worked in sister organisations ) and the other in a social environment (we played five-a-side together each week through mutual friends ). Should I acknowledge the fact that I know them when I go in the door? (Tom, email ).

A: I feel it would be appropriate to say something like ‘Nice to meet you again’ or something of that nature. I would do it out of politeness - they might be taken aback if you don’t refer to it - but it is important to keep it at that level.

Don’t come over too folksy. “I still think about the night I nut-megged you for that winning goal” or “Are you still going in with the studs up?” would be a stage too far with your former soccer colleague (plus a little sad, it wasn’t exactly the World Cup ).

In the case of the person from the sister organisation, it would be inappropriate to embark on a long discussion about mutual acquaintances, or to compare observations on how the respective organisations are proceeding these days.

Keep it warm and friendly, but professional.

Don’t make either of the people feel uncomfortable and don’t exclude the other three people on the panel with an esoteric discussion.

Tips on networking

It has been proven over and over again that word-of-mouth and referrals are two powerful methods of getting jobs.

They get you in the door for a day or two first, and it can build from there.

They alert you to what we will term the hidden jobs market - the jobs that don’t get advertised and the jobs that evolve over a period of time.

And, yet, very few people take pro-active steps to develop their personal and professional networks so that they might be able to capitalise on these opportunities.

People leave it to chance. A few simple tips for enhancing your networking are:

1 Tell people you know that you are looking for work - otherwise they might not even notice you’re on the prowl.

2 Get people to introduce you to people - decide who you want to meet, even for a coffee, and set up meetings through mutual friends or contacts.

3 Have your ‘elevator pitch’ at the ready - who you are, what you do, and what value you will bring. You should be able to prick their interest in less than a minute. People like to help but you’ve got to make it easy for them to do so - therefore, in all meetings, you should be clear about the value you offer a potential employer.

4 Join a jobs club. Here you will be motivated and held to account. “You said you were going to drop your CV into ABC Ltd last week - did you?”

If you’d like to further develop your job-searching and networking skills, you can attend our free 45-minute webinar on job-searching methods for the modern world on Tuesday May 27 at 1.05pm. It’s limited to 50 places and you can register here: http://goo.gl/yVh5Od.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Athlone (090 ) 6403003, Galway, Mayo (Crossmolina and Ballinrobe ), Dublin, and Limerick. Their services include CV preparation, interview training and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/athlone

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