At at least 60% – some report even higher statistics – of all jobs are attained on the “hidden job market”. So what exactly is the “hidden job market?” It’s all those positions that get filled before they make it to recruiters or job search sites. How do they get filled? Mainly by pre-existing connections. Who wants to go to all the bother of recruiting for a role when they already know someone, or know someone who knows someone, and can get it done that much faster, easier, and let’s face it, cheaper?
That, my friends, is why networking to find a new job is a pretty great idea. Here’s the best way to do it.
Informal Job Search Networking
Try job search networking; it really does work. Develop contacts – friends, family, neighbors, uni pals, people in associations – anyone who might help generate information and job leads.
You can take a direct approach and ask for job leads or try a less formal approach and ask for information and advice. Contact everyone you know. You may be surprised by the people they know. Make yourself pick up the phone and call. It helps to assign yourself a quota of calls to be made each day. The more phone calls you make the easier it will become.
Email is a perfectly acceptable way to network as well. Keep your message brief and to the point and be sure to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
If you are attending a holiday gathering or any other type of party, it is appropriate to mention in casual conversation that you are seeking employment. Accept all the invitations you receive – you never know where or when you might meet someone who can provide job search assistance!
Formal Job Search Networking
Formal networking works too – try going to a business social or an association meeting or event. You’ll find that many of the participants have the same goals you do and will be glad to exchange business cards. If you’re shy, volunteer to work at the registration table where you can greet people as they come in or bring a friend to walk around the room with you – there’s security in numbers.
As well as networking the old fashioned way, use the internet to network. Visit discussion boards to network with career professionals and other job seekers. Visit one of the sites, like LinkedIn, that focus on online job search and career networking.
If you belong to a professional association, visit its website for career assistance. Many universities have online career networks where you can find alumni who will be thrilled to help you with your job search.
Job Search Networking Tips
Conduct informational interviews with your contacts and ask for referrals for additional meetings.
Follow through with referrals, and always thank contacts in writing (email is fine).
Create an inventory of your accomplishments, including your educational background and work history, to keep at hand should a chance encounter become a contact
Make a list of the assets you will bring as a prospective employee.
Bring business cards and a pen.
Write some notes so you’ll remember the details on who you have just met on the business cards you collect or in a notebook
When networking online, keep track of who you’ve emailed and where you have posted so you can follow up
Finally, if you haven’t memorised all your strengths and strong points, write them down – you’ll need to articulate these in your resumes and cover letters as well as emphasise them during interview
Sample Job Search Networking Letter
City, State, Postcode
Dear Mr. Contact,
I was referred to you by Lucy Smith from XYZ company in Sydney. She recommended you as an excellent source of information on the communications industry.
My goal is to secure an entry-level position in communications. I would appreciate hearing your advice on career opportunities in the communications industry, on conducting an effective job search, and on how best to uncover job leads.
Thanks so much, in advance, for any insight and advice you would be willing to share. I look forward to contacting you early next week to set up a telephone informational interview. Thank you for your consideration.
Be authentic. In any job search or networking situation, being you—the real you—should be your goal. Hiding who you are or suppressing your true interests and goals will only hurt you in the long run. Pursuing what you want and not what you think others will like, will always be more fulfilling and ultimately more successful.
Be considerate. If you’re reconnecting with an old friend or colleague, take the time to get through the catching-up phase before you blurt out your need. On the other hand, if this person is a busy professional you don’t know well, be respectful of his or her time and come straight out with your request.
Ask for advice, not a job. Don’t ask for a job, a request comes with a lot of pressure. You want your contacts to become allies in your job search, not make them feel ambushed, so ask for information or insight instead. If they’re able to hire you or refer you to someone who can, they will. If not, you haven’t put them in the uncomfortable position of turning you down or telling you they can’t help.
Be specific in your request. Before you go off and reconnect with everyone you’ve ever known, get your act together and do a little homework. Be prepared to articulate what you’re looking for. Is it a reference? An insider’s take on the industry? A referral? An introduction to someone in the field? Also make sure to provide an update on your qualifications and recent professional experience.
Effective networking is not something that should be rushed. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be efficient and focused, but hurried, emergency networking is not conducive to building relationships for mutual support and benefit. When you network, you should slow down, be present, and try to enjoy the process. This will speed up your chances for success in the job-hunting race. Just because you have an agenda doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy reconnecting.