You know the different strategies to get that job. You know the reactive route (responding to posted job ads) and the proactive route (discovering opportunities by getting to the decision makers before jobs are posted). You know that the proactive route has the biggest payoff in terms of effectiveness in getting your new job. You know that the best proactive strategy is to talk with people – called networking.
Some people cringe at the thought of “networking.” Visions of being the lonely soul in a room full of strangers, with people who sound so insincere and “plastic,” come to mind. If pressing the flesh and schmoozing aren’t your bag, you have options. The wonderful world of technology has created a whole new genre of digital networkers.
Your choices for networking:
- Face to face
- Over the telephone
- Via the internet through Web 2.0 applications sometimes referred to as “social networks.”
Face to Face Networking
You are familiar with
face to face networking. It’s simply talking with people. This is the most
genuine form of meeting someone, and some say the best way to find a job. You
can tell a lot about someone when you are standing face to face and speaking.
Albert Morabian, the original researcher on the topic of personal communications, was very specific with his numbers. His studies showed that communications between people could be labeled in three distinct categories.
7% by the words you use
38% by the tone of your voice
55% by how your face and body look.
Mary Munter is a little more generous and rounds off the numbers: "experts estimate that 65 to 90 percent of what you communicate is nonverbal." All of us reel at the unfairness of being judged quickly and powerfully by how we look and sound. But stop and think about how you pass those judgments on others and what it takes for you to change your first impression.
Conclusion? Good communication skills are one of the most important factors in your job search and career success. Without them, you won't get a chance to show off what you know. If you have them, people will feel better when they are speaking with you. They will be more apt to listen to you. You will feel satisfied because you can effectively manage others.
When you meet with people face to face you have the best chance of truly understanding them, and bonding with them.
When you speak to someone over the telephone, you virtually eliminate body language and gestures, meaning tone of voice and words are most important. Remember to stand when you speak (to keep your answers short), and project energy during telephone interviews!
When you communicate with someone over the internet in a forum or chat room, you are only left with the words they type. One online exception is that these days you can communicate via online video, which is almost as effective as being face to face! The point is that there are more opportunities and methods of networking than ever before!
Some of the more visible sites that host millions of networking members are:
For an overview of the most common business networking site, LinkedIn, read on.
How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job - Or Have a Job Find You
- Create a Profile. Create a detailed profile on LinkedIn, including employment (current and past), education, industry, and web sites.
- Consider a Photo. You can add a photo (a headshot is recommended or upload a larger photo and edit it) to your LinkedIn profile. Note that it must be a small photo - no larger than 80x80 pixels. It should a professional head shot only – no family photos.
- Keywords and Skills. Include all your resume keywords and skills in your profile, so your profile will be found.
- Build Your Network. Connect with other members and build your network. The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have. Try to build a business relationship other people in companies you wish to work for.
- Get Recommendations. Recommendations from people you have worked with carry a lot of weight.
- Search Jobs. Use the job search section to find job listings.
- Use Answers. The Answers section of LinkedIn is a good way to increase your visibility. Respond to questions, and ask a question if you need information or assistance.
- Use LinkedIn groups. There is a group for almost anything you can imagine, but the most useful are those set up for employment.
- One of the best things about LinkedIn is that you can type in the name of a company on your target list, hit enter and a list of names pops up with contacts within the target company that may be linked to you! This is called the “Jobs Insider” application found within LinkedIn. The Jobs Insider application may be found under “browser tools” at the bottom of each LinkedIn page.
A Five Step Job Networking Process
(For when you network for a job the old fashion way –“face to face.”)
1. Greet the person and take an interest in them. “Ask how are you doing?” “What’s up?” If you are meeting for the first time ask what they know about the meeting, organization, etc. Then ask them what type of work they do.
2. They may ask what type of work you do. Be ready to respond with your professional work objective or core message, but state it in a casual manner (so it doesn’t sound like a rehearsed, memorized statement). You may say that you are looking for work as a telecommunications project manager, for example.
3. Then if they don’t suggest any job opportunities, ask if they would be kind enough to look at a list of companies you have prepared, and if they would tell you if they know anyone who knows anything about any of these companies (don’t show them all 25 to 50 companies, just a few (6 to 10). Otherwise they may be overwhelmed by the length of your list.
4. If they know someone in one of your target companies, ask if it would be okay for you to contact them. If so, get the contact information. Then ask if it would be alright if you mentioned their name or even better, if they would be willing to call in advance to mention that you may be calling. Be sure the person has heard your core message (the brief message you have practiced with one shinning achievement?) so that they have something positive to share with the person they are referring you to.
5. Always be gracious to someone who gives you a contact name, or even just information about one of your target companies. They are trying to help you – and you should acknowledge that with a thank you card or email, thanking them for their consideration.
Who should be the focus of your job networking efforts and what do you say when you meet them?
Your job networking chain includes three primary groups of people;
Here are some Group 1 job networking questions for family, friends, church members, casual social contacts;
- Would you be willing to look at my target list?
- Do you know anything about any of these organizations? If so, what?
- Which organizations might be best for me?
- Can you think of others not on my list?
- Do you know anyone who might know more about these organizations?
Group 2 job networking questions for those who work inside your target companies.
- What is it like to work there?
- What do you like most/least?
- What is the most appropriate department for me? Why?
- What do they do and how?
- Who would be the appropriate decision maker in that department?
- What do they want in employees?
- Do you know that decision maker?
- Do you know someone that would introduce me to the decision maker?
Group 3 job networking questions for managers who have the authority to hire you.
- Mention your interest in the organization.
- Use your 60 second “core-mercial.”
- Ask what they expect from employees and tell them that you have some (or all) they are looking for.
- Get acquainted if there is time.
- Tell them you would be very interested in talking with them next time they have an opening. Leave your resume if possible.
Note: Resumes are frequently used as a “leave behind” after speaking with and getting to know a hiring manager. Skills listed on resumes are sometimes used only to justify hiring someone the decision maker likes and trusts.
Tapping the Hidden Job Market
Here are some tips from Bill Zhou to help you become the “known candidate” or tapping what is sometimes referred to as the “hidden job market.”
1. Network. Network. Network.
The most important first step in accessing the hidden job market is to network. Get out there and talk to anyone and everyone who may be able to give you insight into where there are jobs.
Start by making a list of everyone you can talk to. Great potential networking contacts include friends, acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, church members, classmates, teachers, club members, employers, supervisors, colleagues, subordinates, clients, customers, former teachers or professors, and fellow association members.
Help these people to help you by making it easy for them. Instead of asking specifically if they know of any job openings, ask them if they know anyone who knows anything about the companies on your target list. If they know of a job, they’ll be sure to mention it. If not, the information and contacts you gain can be invaluable.
2. Research potential employers. Since you’ll be applying for a job without seeing a job description, it’s important to research the company to find out as much as you can about the tasks, skills, and experiences they may be looking for. This will help you to write a resume and cover letter that is relevant to their organization.
Staying focused on a specific industry or position will make the task of researching companies much easier. Starting with too broad of a scope can be overwhelming, and you may never get around to actually contacting any companies.
3. Learn how to sell yourself. When a company has not requested resumes for a specific position it can be difficult to get the attention of the key decision maker. After researching potential employers you should have a better understanding of what they’re looking for. Use this information to sell yourself. Do this by answering the question “why should this employer hire me?” This is where knowing your “core message” comes in handy. Be able to quickly communicate your area of expertise which is just what the company needs (based on your previous research). Be specific and creative when you list all relevant experience, training, and skills that will be of interest to them. Make sure your resume spells out your key selling points so that the employer is left with little doubt that you are a perfect fit for the organization. Even if they don’t have a job available immediately, they’ll most certainly keep your resume on file for future openings.
4. Follow up! It’s difficult to get to see a decision maker, so make sure you let them know you are still interested when that position opens by staying in touch with them. Send them cards and/or emails no less than every four weeks. Don’t ask if there are any positions available! Send them a clipping related to their industry or a holiday card.
5. Get your resume to the right person. If you’re networking or company research produced the name of a person who is responsible for hiring then start by calling the company and verifying that person’s name and contact information.
If you don't know of a specific contact at the company, call and ask for someone by title. For example you might say, "I need to write a letter to your head of accounting. May I know his or her name, please?" If you can't think of anyone at all, ask for the president. It’s unlikely you’ll get through to him or her, but the secretary can point you in the right direction. Once you have a person’s name you can send a personalized cover letter and resume. In the letter, be sure to state exactly what kind of job you’re looking for. Simply saying that you’re looking for any available position does not make you come across as a good candidate. End your letter by telling them you'll be calling them within 48 hours. Don’t leave them waiting too long to hear from you or you’ll be forgotten.
6. Don’t take "no" for an answer. It’s rarely easy to get the attention of decision makers in a company. Even once you know the proper person to contact, you still have the task of getting your resume into his or her hands. In this situation persistence really does pay off, so stick with it. The key to getting through to them is to anticipate what problems you may encounter and have a plan for how you’ll deal with them.
Some of the most common problems you’re likely to face are:
- Gatekeepers: These are the secretaries and assistants whose job is to keep you away from the decision maker. Get around them by calling at least once a day until you reach the decision maker directly. You can also try calling after hours or at lunch time.
- Voicemail: Leave a message with the specifics of why you’re calling and your contact information. Then end the call by saying that you’ll call them back and when. This is a good introduction for when you are able to get them on the phone.
- Objections: When you do get through to the decision maker you may be met with a series of objections. “We’re not hiring” or “I’m too busy right now”, or “please contact our human resources department about employment” are common, so expect to hear them. Usually reassuring them that you will only take a moment of their time and then quickly stating your reason for calling is the best approach.
Job Networking is a Numbers Game!
- Talk with 30 friends, family or acquaintances.
- They will lead you to at least 15 people who are
- These insiders should lead you to 5 decision makers.
- Meetings with 5 decision makers should lead to at
least 1 interview.
- Meetings with 25 decision makers should lead to at
least 5 interviews.
- It takes an average of 5 interviews to land one job.
Remember, networking is a numbers game! And it takes effort. But it pays off better than any other game in town!
Make a list of 10 people you know that you have NOT told about your job search. Make a check mark in the box next to each name after you contact each person. Put a start next to the names of each person who tells you something about a company on your target list.
Individual Exercise #2
When it comes to job networking, what is your greatest concern? What are you doing about it?
Group Exercise #1
In groups of three, have each participant share their current networking process (who do you talk to, what do you say, and where do you go). Share the types of job networking that have been most productive for each person in the group.
If any members of the group have experience networking with hiring managers, have them share their experiences with the group.
Gather the best ideas from each group member regarding the easiest way to get in front of hiring managers. Have each group share their best ideas during the whole group during the debriefing part of the meeting.
Resources For Job Networking
Networking Skills That Will Get You the Job You Want, by Cherie Kerr
Highly Effective Networking: Meet the Right People and Get a Great Job, by Orville Pierson