High-School Buddy, Job Connection

Blaine Helmick got help from an old friend to score a new job.


Blaine Helmick never thought he would land his next job through social networking.

The IT director for a hospitality company in Orlando, Fla., had been with his former company for nine years and was ready for a change. He joined Ladders’ Job Search Consultation Program and received advice that he didn’t expect — join LinkedIn.

“I’m not a social-networking kind of guy,” Helmick said.

But he was open-minded, and he tried to contact someone at Disney by seeking referrals through his extended network on LinkedIn.

“He was kind of hesitant to do that because he only knew a few CEOs,” said Mallory Labriola, Helmick’s personal job-search consultant through Ladders’ program.

Like Helmick, many of Labriola’s clients in the $100K-plus market tend only to think about other high-level executives as possible networking contacts. By contrast, Labriola said, mid-level connections can be just as valuable, especially when professionals use social networking to leverage them.

“I would really stress to him that … you don’t only use connections that are high-level,” Labriola said. “With every lower-level contact, you get another 200 people as well.”

There were several layers of contacts between Helmick and his target, and when one of them — the father of an old high-school pal — saw his resume, the man just couldn’t pass it along. He wanted Helmick for himself.

His friend’s dad worked for the president of Technomedia Solutions — another hospitality organization in Orlando that offered Helmick a lot of upside.

Helmick was learning quickly that the world of social networking is a small one.

“You never know who your buddy from high school knows,” he said. “I never thought that social networking would have contributed the way that it has.”

Helmick wound up interviewing for the Director of Information and Creative Technologies position at Technomedia and got the job.

Helmick said he’s very pleased with his results: Technomedia has a lot of room for growth and he is performing a larger variety of creative multimedia installations to a bigger list of prestigious customers.

The top three takeaways from his job search ?

  • Go into it with an open mind.
  • Hire a consultant.
  • Be responsive to criticism and direction.

Had he not done all three of those, Helmick said he wouldn’t have been in the position to advance his career.

While he won’t be joining Facebook any time soon, Helmick did admit that the experience has given him a new outlook on that type of medium.

“My mind is definitely changed about the … power of social networking,” he said.

Helmick said he’s also sold on the Job Search Consultation Program because the outside help of a professional broadened his strategy in a way that wouldn’t have occurred to him.

“It’s all about building out your network regardless of that person’s current position,” Ladders’ Labriola said.

As for Helmick’s old high-school buddy, “I told him on his next trip down here I will be treating him to an exorbitantly expensive dinner,” he said.