By Louise Alima, Career Services
Networking is one of the most important strategies for finding a job, whatever the state of the economy. Whether you are looking for new jobs in your industry, job hunting as a result of being laid off, or deciding to pursue a different career path, every article, book and career counselor will tell you that “knowing someone” is the way to get a job, or at least, an interview. Networking is treating everyone you know, every social contact, as a potential referral source for a job. And it really works! Networking puts you in front of people who know people who might be doing the hiring. Most people simply want to help a fellow human being if they can.
With fewer than 25% of jobs being advertised, networking allows the job seeker to access the “hidden job market” where most jobs can be found, that is, those unadvertised, “word-of-mouth” jobs that you want but can’t find. Remember that companies like to hire people who know someone. It makes sense because if a friend, a colleague, or a business associate recommends someone for the job, then their reputation is on the line.
So get started by following these “Do’s” and you’ll be on your way to a new job. Along the way, you may also find that meeting and talking with people is energizing and interesting.
1. Do treat networking as a necessary way to get a job. Networking is the most efficient use of your time and energy. If you buy into it, each time you meet someone, you will be more comfortable and able to do it well.
2. Be organized. Whether you keep a notebook (preferable), a spreadsheet or a rolodex file, make sure you have a method to record people you want to contact. Once done, keep a record of each interaction, and most importantly, what steps you need to take to follow up.
3. Create a list of people you know, such as your neighbors, their children or even their parents. Another good source is to look at the people you’ve written a check to in the last year—your accountant, lawyer, dentist, hairdresser, or car mechanic. They all know people who know people. And they want your continued business, so they are invested in your finding a job!
4. Make a networking card giving your name, contact information, degrees, and brief summary of your work skills, experience and knowledge—all on the front of a business card. You can get copies printed for free or at an office supply store. And then, make sure you always have these cards with you so you can hand one to each person you tell about your job search. Always.
5. Ask for help. Most people want to help, but your job is to be succinct and focused so they know how to help you. When asked what kind of job you are looking for, don’t answer: “Anything” or “I can do many things, like computers, teach or write articles.” That is way too much information for anyone to absorb. Your contacts will not be able to focus on what they can do to help—because you weren’t focused. It is important to be clear and make the link for the listener: “I am an accountant with large business experience, so finding a position in a company with 250 or more employees would best use my skills. Perhaps a company like UnderArmour or Jos A. Banks.”
6. Aim for a face-to-face encounter with one of your contacts. Ask for an informational interview. Be prepared by learning about the company in advance, and bring questions. The informational interview is the ultimate networking technique because it creates a connection between you and someone in the field or company where you want to be. Do learn more about informational interviews before heading to the meeting so you present yourself as a professional.
7. Remember to thank everyone who helped you along the way when you’ve finally landed that job! It’s polite, it’s smart and it’s an insurance that should you need help again, these people will be willing to help because you acted like the professional you are.
Networking takes work and energy, but doing it well and thoroughly provides you with many rewards, and the most importantly, puts you solidly on the road to a new job! Good luck!
By Louise Alima, Career Coach, Jewish Community Services Career Services, Baltimore, MD
JCS offers a full range of career services. To learn more about these and other ways JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles, visit http://www.jcsbaltimore.org, or call 410-466-9200. Jewish Community Services is an agency of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.