How To Effectively Network Your Way Into a New Job
One of the biggest mistakes I see jobseekers make is keeping their search confined to job boards. Some of the issues with job boards do lie with employers and their standard practices. ATS is becoming the norm, which is making hiring and recruiting a low-touch profession and it is wreaking havoc on the candidate experience. It takes longer for candidates to receive a response – if they even receive one at all. Many clients have told me that prior to having their resume optimized it would end up in the black hole- what is commonly referred to as the deep dark hole in which a resume falls once it is determined that it wasn’t a fit for the role.
Unfortunately, there are those who try to game the system that also increases frustration for candidates. This is done by posting non-existent jobs for the purposes of gathering information, building a resume database, and generating website traffic. What some may not realize is that there are businesses, such as academic institutions, who are required to post all open positions to job boards regardless of their type, where the organization is in the hiring process, or from where they plan on hiring. At times, a job can be posted because it is required by law and an internal candidate is promoted. All of this leads to candidates who apply to job postings without yielding any results and it always results in frustration.
How does networking boost a job search? Let’s look at how this method can help a candidate find their dream career.
Networking has been known to be one of the most popular methods to getting a job.
Networking in a Job Search
Maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you haven’t- networking helps to uncover the hidden source of jobs. In fact, upwards of 85 percent of jobs are now filled through networking. Some would argue that time could be more well spent on building your professional network than in searching online postings.
Networking has been known to be one of the most popular methods to getting a job. There are a lot of hidden jobs out there. A lot of jobs are not published- at least 70-80 percent of them- and yet, candidates are still spending a lot of time on job boards. These are the jobs that tend to be filled internally or by employee referral. Many jobseekers don’t realize that they should be talking to others who are hiring referrals and internal candidates.
I realize many don’t love networking and oftentimes think of it as a dirty word. It also doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable process. Don’t let the thought turn you off or intimidate you.
Networking Effectively for Results
It is important not to network just to do it. Some people feel like they are going through the motions, so they collect business cards and contacts and never fully build a relationship with the individual. Below are some ideas for you to consider to effectively network your way through a job search, including:
- Don’t be afraid to network the old-fashioned way- in-person. That can either be formally at an event, or informally by having coffee or a meal with a professional connection. There isn’t anything more powerful than face-to-face contact and meetings.
- Don’t make it all about you, either. Think about how you can contribute to someone else by offering your assistance and not looking for something in return. By doing so, something could come back to you in the end.
- Are you introverted and shy? Fear not! Come up with some topics and questions to ask in advance. Still fearful? Practice in front of a mirror or with a trusted partner, if necessary.
- Use LinkedIn and social media, too! It’s important to strike a balance between leveraging social networking and the most powerful old-fashioned method. Make it a point to network in-person on a regular basis as well as online.
- Be proactive because it doesn’t just happen. You need to be active in your efforts and be sure you get out and meet people. Start by talking to everyone you meet at business meetups, trade shows, and conferences. The important part is not to forget about them after the event has ended.
- Take the time to carefully develop your networking strategy. Do so by preparing your elevator speech explaining who you are and what you do, and practice enough that you sound like a natural. Schedule at least two or three events per month and find groups that you want to join so that you build relationships through the monthly meetings. Have a stack of business cards ready to give out. Remember, you don’t want to be the person who works the room racing to collect and hand out your cards. Save the exchange for when you have a conversation. People can sense greedy networkers who are there to work the room and add as many contacts to their LinkedIn contacts without ever keeping in touch. Being genuine sells, so be prepared to ask plenty of questions of others, and keep in mind that you’re trying to help them first, not the other way around.
- Building a trusted network takes time and an investment of time. If you put that effort in regularly then you should feel more prepared if or when you ever find yourself in a job search so, take advantage of opportunities and attend them.
Learning how to network effectively and doing so throughout your career will help you build up a strong professional network that can assist you in times of need, such as a job search. Networking is a two-way street and you will be unsuccessful if all you do is ask for help or for favors and never offer to return them. Take the time to ask them for whatever they need in return and things will come back to you- like networking your way into a job!