For the past 23 years, I’ve been a recruiter. And one thing I know: with few exceptions, most job seekers hate the thought of ‘Networking’!
I have to contact people they don’t know??? Please say NO!
Like it or not, we’re in a tough job market. I spoke to someone recently that was downright angry that what they did in the past just doesn’t seem to work anymore. In two previous job searches (in 1998 and 2005), all he had to do was post his resume on the major job boards. He got calls, interviews, and ultimately his new jobs.
Now he posts his resume, applies to dozens of jobs online… and NOTHING!
Different times call for different measures.
In the market today, you must network and be a much more active candidate than ever before. Posting your resume, or applying online is passive. You are dropping the bait in the water, but waiting for the fish to bite. In order to get your job today, you have to dive in and use a net!
So… nice analogy… but what does that look like?
For many, contacting those they don’t know is well outside of their comfort zone. So the first thing to do is decide whether it’s more important to work only within your comfort zone, or to get a new job! Once that choice is made, often networking becomes easier.
In reality, good networking is building relationships and following a trail of bread,crumbs from one person to another until the right opportunity presents itself. Generally you will find contacts who want to help, they just don’t know how. They may not know of a specific opening for you and don’t know what else they can offer.
Your job: let them know that you’re simply seeking as many people to connect with as you can until the right situation turns up.
Tell them directly: “My job during my search is to follow a trail of breadcrumbs until I get to the right opportunity. So I’m really only hoping you can let me know of a couple of other people you think might be worthwhile to connect to as well. If you were in my situation, who are the first couple people you would contact?”
Where to start?
Begin by creating a list of everyone you know. Include previous co-workers, those from your church, bowling league and health club. Include family, friends, neighbors, and second cousins. Contact them all. These are warm calls; they are people you know. Don’t disqualify anyone (I know of someone that got their job lead from an 85-year old grandmother at their church). You never know where your best lead will come from – and they can’t help if they don’t know you’re looking.
Be respectful, be pleasant and upbeat, and be professional. You can do that!
Very important: follow up every call, meeting, and conversation with an emailed thank you note. Let them know how much you appreciate their help and consideration, and very briefly restate what you are looking for and that any referrals are appreciated. Then make sure to include your contact information so that if something comes to their mind, they can easily find how to reach you.
One more tip…
Send out a monthly email update to everyone you’ve connected to throughout your search. Let them know of the activity you’ve had, what prospects you are currently pursuing, what companies you would love referrals into, and that you still very much appreciate any additional ideas or referrals. This update also lets them know you are a) actively pursuing contacts and not just waiting by the phone like a bump on a log; and b) you are still interested in hearing about opportunities and ideas.
Networking may not be one your favorite things; however, in this tight market the alternative – prolonging your job search – is not a great option.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at The Wise Job Search!
About the Author: Harry Urschel has over 25 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, and writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search. Contact Harry by email and follow him on Twitter!