It's all about the face value

Published on: 24 Sep 2012

Remote working, social networking and keeping your head down are not going to get you that job or promotion. It’s being visible and networking face-to-face that works at work, writes Niki Chesworth

Working towards a goal: a chance meeting in a café following a networking session led Sephora Ochou to a work placement at UBS

LACK of “face time” with your boss could affect your career progression.  Workers who adopt non-traditional working arrangements receive fewer rewards than their office-bound peers, according to an academic study.

It found that face-to-face interaction was often key when assessing leadership skills and dependability. There are two types of passive face time that work for you at work according to the report authors, Daniel Cable from London Business School and Kimberly Elsback from the University of California.

These include being present at work during normal business hours, which is seen as being “responsible” and “dependable”, and also being there outside of your required shift, which employers feel makes you “committed” and “dedicated”. Remote workers can overcome this by regular phone calls and emails as well as voicemails and emails early in the day or late at night to prove your job dedication, according to the report. 

However, being visible is not just a way to get promoted — or ensure that you keep your job when cuts are made — it is also a way to get a job in the first place. For young people in particular, networking is even more vital as school, college and university leavers may have little experience to include on their CVs.

Professor Chris R Jones, head of business school at Glyndwr University,  who lectures on the benefits of networking, says: “The current generation of talented young adults are experiencing a seismic shift away from accepted norms, not just of job availability but also in terms of getting through the corporate door. Of course, competition is fiercer than ever under  prevailing market conditions. However, there is much more to it than that.  Just as our means of communication are becoming compressed into 140 characters or less, our decision-making processes are often equally as  rapid.

“Potential employers can make judgment calls based upon one chance meeting, a short testimonial from a trusted colleague or a quick read of a blog post. Yes, the CV still has a role in recruitment. However, we can all look great on paper. Those who get recruited look great in action.”

So what are his tips for marketing your own “brand” to employers?

Rather than “brash,  in-your-face” promotion, Professor Jones says that potential recruits need to get across a “series of statements that promise potential for quality,  innovation and value”. He adds: “Internships and work experience  placements represent the perfect platform for achieving this.”

Sephora Ochou, 19, from Peckham, is one of those who has benefited from the opportunity to network through a work placement. This is how it worked for her thanks to the City of London Business Traineeship scheme, led by the City of London Corporation and delivered by the Brokerage Citylink.

On a 10-week paid placement in the UBS human resources department, where Sephora was a trainee after finishing her A-levels at St Francis Xavier  Sixth Form College, she attended a talk by the managing director of Wealth Management at UBS.

She also took part in a workshop run by the Brokerage Citylink with a number  if speakers from different departments in the bank, including senior management. At these sessions, Sephora became interested in this line of  work, so she made contact with the managing director. Thanks, in part, to a chance meeting in a café, and in part to being remembered from the networking sessions, Sephora was able to express her interest in wealth management and received instructions to get back in touch in January about  some summer work. An informal meeting in January led to a 10-week  placement this summer in wealth management, the area she wants to work  in.

The scheme, which places applicants from state schools in the six boroughs surrounding the financial district’s Square Mile with prestigious City firms for  10 to 13 weeks over the summer, aims to give 18- and 19-year-olds experience as well as the chance to meet people and make contacts while being paid the standard rate for their role.

Regarding networking, Sephora says: “I would encourage everyone to network: you can learn so much about other areas and get ideas about the types of work you would like to do. I got such a great opportunity through making contacts that I was able to try out a new type of work and identify my  own strengths and skills. Get out there as much as you can and speak to as  many people as possible. You don’t know what may come of a quick chat.”

Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, says: “By maximising the opportunities to meet with City professionals throughout their placements, young people can find new paths into careers and explore  avenues that they would otherwise have never considered. In today’s  economic climate, these experiences and the skills they develop can make  all the difference when it comes to securing a job.”

Sephora says that the biggest benefits of networking to her have been  getting another paid placement, learning more about USB, meeting people  with the same goals and gaining confidence.


  • Be friendly — don’t be nervous about approaching someone. Be confident and don’t be afraid to engage them in conversation
  • Try to talk to as many people as possible, don’t be exclusive
  • Listen to what people say — respond naturally then steer the conversation in the direction you want
  • Don’t forget that most people will be flattered if you ask them for advice
  • Don’t be afraid to use contacts, if you don’t other people will
  • Make use of professional networking sites like LinkedIn, but keep Twitter and Facebook for personal use