Networking is the most effective job search technique. All other techniques will take more time and have a lower success rate. Unfortunately, many job seekers fail to use their network.
There are three reasons job seekers don’t network. First, many job seekers that are unemployed withdraw from friends and associates. Whether it is motivated by a lack of confidence, depression or embarrassment, many people hide their job search from the people they know. Second, job seekers often fail to recognize the relationships they can use to help their search. Third, many job seekers don’t know what help they can get from people they know.
To maximize your job search success, you need to overcome these three obstacles.
A lack of confidence can be very difficult to get over. Getting fired or laid off does nothing to change the accomplishments you had. Focus on your successes. This is good advice for anyone. Your resume should emphasize accomplishments, and you should talk about your past successes in interviews. Preparing to do these two things can help you restore your confidence.
Most job seekers consider very few people in their network as resources for their job search. The truth is you have hundreds or thousands of potential allies that can help you. Let’s look at the math. A person with just 10 friends and associates has access to a team of more than 100 that can help. The reason this works is that each of your ten friends has 10 other friends. If you asked everyone you know if they know anyone at a particular company, you will probably cast a net in the hundreds or thousands.
One pitfall job seekers often fall into is only asking for help from people that are in a position to hire them. Any employee of a company can help you get noticed by their employer. Asking for help and getting help are easy if you are willing to ask and know what to ask.
The key benefit to using your network is learning as much about the company as you can. The more you understand the priorities, values and hiring process of a company, the better you can tailor your approach. Once you identify someone you can talk with about an employer, ask the following three questions:
Your goal in asking these questions is twofold. First, you want to gather intelligence on the company that you can use to best sell your background and potential. Second, the person helping you may offer to recommend you to a hiring manager. Many companies offer referral bonuses to employees that recommend people that are hired. This can turn your contact into a significant advocate for you.
You can take this process to another level by reaching out to people in your online social network. Contacts on Twitter or LinkedIn and be very helpful – even if you have never actually talked with these individuals. The key is asking for help that the individual can provide. Asking if they can give you a job will rarely lead to anything. Asking what makes a person successful in their company is likely to yield and answer that you can use to tailor your resume and interview answers.