Informal Job Search Networking
It has been suggested that up to 60% of all positions are acquired through networking!
It does, however, take a concerted effort to get the best out of those in the network. They need to be nurtured, just as you would any relationship. Contacts include friends, family, neighbours, college or university alumni and people linked to relevant associations. Generally, your list should include anyone who may provide you with job leads or further contacts.
When job searching, your relationships with the various contacts will determine how you approach them, but always be honest and diplomatic. Do not be pushy! You can, however, be direct and explain that you are looking for job leads. Otherwise you could merely ask for advice – this may work in your favour anyway.
Some people can be more difficult to approach than others, so be determined – focus on what you will potentially win from making contact. After the first few telephone calls the process is likely to become much less daunting.
A brief, friendly email – one which is grammatically accurate - can be effective too. Your best approach, however, is a telephone call (ask if it is a good time to have a quick chat).
Other networking opportunities need to be seized too. Accept every invitation – birthday parties, pub gatherings, family get-togethers - they are all potentially useful forums for casually mentioning that you are looking for work.
Formal Job Search Networking
Formal networking is the more obvious approach, but the opportunities can be difficult to exploit. They commonly occur at relevant work oriented gatherings; conferences, business breakfasts and events or meetings - organised by associations, regulatory councils, societies or institutes.
To overcome shyness either volunteer to work at the registration desk or take a friend – it is easier to ‘work’ a room with a mate.
Business cards are commonly swapped at these events so it may be worth having some made upto ensure you are well prepared.
If you are alumni,contact the career services office at your alma mater - many universities have online career networks where you can find alumni who are happy to help you with your job search.
The internet is also a valuable networking source. Discussion boards offer opportunities to network with career professionals and other job seekers.
And of course there is LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a social media networking site with over 300 million users. It is the world’s largest professional network and can offer a broader perspective of you as an individual.
LinkedIn also has the ability to maximise your opportunities in the workforce. Consider the benefits and advantages below:
· You can access all kinds of information, such as; news stories, advice from industry leaders, articles and sometimes even contacts are shared.
· You can publish your own content, such as; blogs, photos, videos, presentations. This enables you to ‘show-off’ your talent or brand.
· You can be notified when relevant jobs are advertised - a great feature.
· You can connect with professionals in your industry.
· You can research company information. For example, gain an insight into the hiring process of a particular business or prepare yourself before an interview and read what others have to say about it.
· You can gather recommendations from others and place them on your profile - the more you get the better it looks for an employer.
· Finally, you can search for international jobs because LinkedIn is a global network.
Carefully consider what information should be included on your LinkedIn profile. Remember that an employer needs to be astounded in the first 20 seconds – your profile needs to stand out! Some of your most important information should go in the headline. Describe your skills (focus on including relevant keywords so that your profile can be found by employers). Include a professional-looking photograph.
Job Search Networking Tips
- Where possible conduct informational interviews (Refer below)- with your contacts. These will provide you with an intimate view of your job field. At the same time ask for referrals for additional meetings
- Follow through with the referrals that you have managed to get. Always email your contacts to thank them.
- Make a list of the assets you will bring as a prospective employee, including your strengths and weaknesses
- Have your accomplishments, educational background and work history in mind for chance encounters with potentially valuable contacts
- Take notes to help you remember who you have met. Keep their business cards with the information that you have collected
- When networking online, keep track of who you have emailed and where you have posted so you can follow up
An informational interview request letter – A sample
Dear Mr Smith
I was referred to you by Jane Shaw from XYZ company in Manchester. She recommended you as an excellent source of information on the communications industry.
My goal is to secure an entry-level position in communications. To this end your advice on career opportunities in the industry would be invaluable. Guidance on conducting an effective job search and on how best to uncover job leads, would also be very much appreciated.
I look forward to contacting you early next week to set up a telephone informational interview. Thank you for your consideration.
Your First and Last Name
Thanks to the following site for help here: http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/networking/a/networking.htm