The people you know can be the best way for you to find your next job. The “tried and true” path of networking is still the most successful way to find your next position.
Research consistently identifies networking as an important job search tool — anywhere from 40-80% of job placements are attributed to networking. Networking can also be a way to identify unadvertised job opportunities — accessing the “hidden job market.” The “hidden” job market refers to positions that are filled through employee referrals, recruiters, or direct contact with hiring managers through their network of industry or professional contacts.
With the right experience and credentials to meet a company’s need, you may even have a job created just for you. For example, one of my clients became the first full-time lobbyist at an advocacy organization that had never hired a lobbyist before.
It happens all the time. Someone in your network says, “You know what? You should talk to John Jones at the XYZ Company. They’re looking for someone like you.”
Here are some thoughts to consider as you develop a network of business contacts:
- Build your network before you need it,
- Determine who should be on your contact list,
- Decide how your business and personal contacts can help,
- Use social media as a tool to grow your contact list, and
- Send networking job search letters and e-notes.
Build your network before you need it.
The single biggest mistake most job searchers make is not asking for help from their personal, industry and professional contacts. People want to help you — so let them! But don’t wait until you’re out of work to start developing relationships with other people in your business or profession.
As author Harvey Mackey says, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Develop your contacts, be willing to help these folks with their needs, and they will be there when you need them!
The more people who know you are looking for a job, the more eyes and ears that will be available to help. Networking is about getting the people you already know to help connect you to the people who will help you land your next career opportunity.
You can also tap into your network for specific assistance. For example, if you want to work at a particular company, ask people in your network if they know anyone who currently works for — or used to work for “Company X.” Then contact that person and ask about the company, culture, and hiring practices.
Who is in your network?
The first step is to identify who is in your network. This can include friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents and relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, and professional association contacts. Additionally, your doctor, financial advisor, or attorney can be valuable contacts. You never know who may have a great lead or know of an unadvertised opportunity.
Your current business and personal contacts are just a starting point. For example, don’t forget to add your educational contacts, including professors and classmates. Recently, I landed two new clients that a professor who taught a class I attended 20 years ago referred to me.
The list of people you know will expand, perhaps, exponentially, as you think about it. For example, I have been an amateur radio operator since childhood. Some of the “hams” I started out with in a local club are now senior professionals that have become clients, or that have referred prospective clients.
Decide how your contacts can help.
There are a few ways to use contacts to find a new opportunity. The first is by reaching out to specific people — or your entire network — and letting them know you are looking for ideas, information, advice, and contacts/referrals. Even if you’re contacting someone with the power to hire you, don’t ask for a job. Ask for advice or assistance, not a job. Create a networking job search e-note or business letter and send the letter with your resume to each of your contacts. This is the broadest way to use your network, and can be useful if you are currently unemployed and not worried about jeopardizing your current job by visibly pursuing a new one.
A more effective way to use your contacts is a more targeted approach. Identify the specific need you have, and then contact people who are in a position to help you reach that specific job goal. The more specific you are about what you need or what you’re looking for, the more likely you are to get what you want.
For example, if you see an advertised opening for a position, go through your contact list and see who might be able to provide you with access to the hiring manager (or someone else who works at the company), information about that specific company or industry that is not available online, or information about the specific position you’re seeking. Of course, don’t expect to get proprietary information, but you may find out things that are not on company or industry web sites.
You can ask contacts to make an introduction to a hiring manager. Contacts may agree to introduce you to hiring managers, or they may pass along your resume. Some companies even have formal referral programs where employees receive incentives for introducing people that get hired and stay.
Social media can help.
Social media can also be effective for helping you achieve your networking goals. You can let your contacts know you are looking for a new position by posting status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. This is particularly useful if you are currently unemployed and you’re not worried about your boss finding out you’re seeking a new position. (Even if you have your social media profile privacy settings locked down, remember that anything you post online can potentially become public information if it is shared.)
You can also research a potential connection using social media. Use Google to find out if the person has a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, or Twitter account.
LinkedIn is particularly effective in helping you take your existing contacts and leveraging them into even more networking opportunities. You can see how you’re connected to a company or another individual using LinkedIn.
Use social media to arrange in-person or Zoom get-togethers. Technology makes networking easier, but face-to-face interaction is still the most impactful. Pandemic conditions may make face-to-face interaction difficult for some time to come in many localities, though, so don’t hesitate to substitute virtual meetings.
Send networking job search letters and e-notes.
An effective way to network into a new job is getting your resume in the hands of those who are in a position to help you. One way to do this is with a networking job search letter. The purpose of a networking letter is to let your network know you’re looking for a position, and ask for specific help. You can attach the letter to an email or write your content as an e-note in the email body, and then attach a resume.
Regardless of your approach, you will get a job faster in 2021 by utilizing a network of personal, business, and professional contacts to spread the word about your good work.Are you ready for great correspondence to jump-start your business network? Contact us for an appointment to discuss our job search communications package
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