Network like a pro and get recruited in no time
In this day and age, finding the right job for your talents and skills is quite hard. According to Lou Adler, CEO, and author of the book The Best Job-hunting Secrets of All Time, only 20% of active job seekers find networking necessary and comfortable, while another 20% of job seekers consider networking uncomfortable albeit necessary as well.
When it comes to networking for finding a new job, many people mistake this strategy with nepotism (which is a very different can of worms). Moreover, not all people who are good at their job or have a specific set of skills to offer are also good at networking. When you are young, a bit shy, and at the beginning of your career journey, networking may feel overwhelming.
What people do not know, is that we have something called the “hidden job market” – open positions and jobs that never go out in public and on recruitment sites.
People fill these jobs through mouth-to-mouth networking, while job seekers never hear of these positions via an advertisement or public announcements.
The better the job is, the more silence surrounds it. Usually, large companies recruit from the inside, but you surely know a friend who talked to a friend and managed to land a job in a company that was not publicly recruiting at the time.
Do you want to be able to find your dream job or one that will boost your career strategy?
Do not dismiss the power of networking and never consider this in terms of nepotism. People will not hire you just because they know you or they know your friend – not in this economy.
So are you ready to network?
1. Understand What Networking Means
It is somehow disconcerting to see Harvard University encourages its students to use the Harvard Network – one of the largest and most influential networks in the world – in order to find a job because Harvard students feel reluctant in leveraging their Ivy League connections to cut their way into the jungle of job seeking.
And yet, young people want to make it on their own and prove their worth through their own means, without using friends, connections, and social ties. This is where everybody gets things wrong.
- Networking does not mean manipulating people, aggressively promoting yourself, using other peoples’ influence, collect a favor, or stealing a more talented candidate’s job.
- Networking means that your finely tuned resume ends up on the recruitment manager’s desk instead of the slush pile of CV’s recruiters receive by the hundreds.
- Networking means learning ahead of time of certain job openings and maybe get a seat at the table.
As we said, networking does not equal hiring, but it is one of the most important steps to make when you want to land your dream job.
2. Learn What Job You Want to Get and What Your Career Goal Is in the Immediate Future
Being aware of your job goals leads you to understand the type of people who can help you achieve these goals.
Depending on your major areas of interest (do not settle to one singular job if you have transferable skills and versatile talents), you can divide your networking goals into categories of potential contacts (some of them you already know and have a relationship with):
- Classmates and the university’s network
- Your Alumni club
- People you play sports with or people that are also in the clubs you frequent
- Volunteer organizations you have worked with
- Hobby clubs where you already made friends
- Professional organizations or companies you had contact with (volunteering, internships etc.)
This is just your basic list of contacts and it already looks impressive. You can also factor in your social media networks – you have friends, colleagues, and acquaintances there – together with all the people and outlets, you had contact in your projects, academic and personal endeavours.
As a piece of advice, make these lists paying attention and trying to remember everyone you already worked with one way or the other. You will learn you know more people than you thought.
3. Make a Database
The professional way to approach networking is conceiving a database and extended spreadsheets containing peoples’ names, titles, the companies they work for, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, details on where you met and what you worked on together.
While business cards are still a way to connect to people, keeping a database in a digital world is the way to go.
4. The Secret Is to Keep in Touch With Your Network
Trying to meet newer and newer people to make more and more connections are just as inefficient as applying to all possible job announcements in blind. The secret is to rely on the network you already have.
The secret is to find people who can vouch for you from a professional and personal point of view. Either it is about past performance or potential.
When we talk about referencing and endorsements we do not refer to the endorsement frenzy, you see on professional networks – people praising complete strangers for all sorts of abilities just to receive praise back.
Since we spoke about a perfectly curated resume, you should include their real and reliable references from people who actually know you and show your skills in action
5. Networking Is a Relationship
Aggressively insisting to all your friends to find you a job is far from professional networking. It is actually the opposite. Networking is a give-and-take process, not job-seeking bullying.
Here are some things you need to be mindful about:
- Ask for advice, not for a job. Ambushing people into finding you a job is a bad way to start. Instead, ask them for advice and make them feel they are an important part of a project. Pressuring them in obtaining an interview for you pushes people away.
- Make your requests specific. When you reconnect with people from the past or try to get close to people already present in your life, make sure you know what you ask for from whom. Some may offer you insights on a specific industry, others will be willing to become your references, some may want to introduce you to new people, while others may push your CV through the proper channels. As long as you do not make anyone feel uncomfortable, your friends will be more than willing to help.
- Reciprocate. As we said, this is a relationship. If you want an endorsement from somebody, for instance, make sure you are ready to help your friends with something they need – when they need it. Networking is about mutual respect, support, building trust, confidence, and authenticity.
Networking is not hard if you know how to start and where you want to arrive. You already know many people – you simply need to nurture genuine relationships with them.
In the digital world, this is quite easy. All you need to do is to keep the right company for you and be a reliable companion for others.