Hidden jobs in smaller companies

It’s not what you know or who you know that counts. In today’s competitive job market, it’s both. And for Lori Svendson, knowing Marnee Benson of Black Rock Solar meant the difference between a job interview and no job interview.

Black Rock Solar, a small renewable energy company, has a job opening in its Reno office. Benson said within 36 hours of posting the office administrator position on Craigslist.com, she had received 90 applications.

“We took our ad down after a day and a half,” Benson said. “In those applications, I had 25 in the maybe-to-yes category. There were so many qualified people.”

But Svendson, 52, had not even seen the Craigslist listing.

“ I wasn’t really looking for a new job,” she said. “I’d looked a little online, but it seems like there’s nothing there.”

Svendson heard about the job opening from Benson when the friends were hiking.

“We were talking about work, and I literally had that lightbulb moment,” Benson said. “I had been describing to people my ideal office administrator, and I looked at Lori, and it was her. And so I mentioned it to her and invited her to apply.”

Beyond having a friendship lead to discovering this job, the friendship helped get her in the door for the initial interview. “Her resume is great,” Benson said of Svendson, “but there’s no telling considering the quality of resumes that we got whether we would have called her for an interview if she was just in the mix with the 90.”

But the personal connection secured the interview.

“I’m trying to keep all the candidates on an equal footing, but since I know her and know her work ethic, values and personality, it does tilt things a little bit,” Benson said. “Those are some of the unknowns when you go to hire someone. They might look good on paper and they might have a couple of great interviews, but you’re going to be around them for six or eight hours a day. Personality is going to be important in a small company where everybody is in the same space.”

For Svendson, the personal connection is especially important, she said.

“With job applications being online, I think people can see that I’m 52 and think, ‘That’s too old.’ But if people can meet you and see you and see your personality, they’ll see that 52 isn’t so bad.”

The Black Rock Solar hiring team has narrowed the field down to five candidates who are returning for second interviews this week. “They’re all excellent,” Benson said. “It’s going to be a tough decision.”

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One thought on “Hidden jobs in smaller companies

  1. Laura, Networking is key and your story certainly illustrates this avenue. People like to go with with a “known” person/situation rather than taking a risk with someone who may seem good on paper, but really isn’t a perfect fit for a job. And sometimes luck seems to play into it, too . . . being at the right place with the right person at the right time. Good storytelling and flow with your quotes.

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