Networking is one of the most important pieces of a successful job search. It’s vital to grow your network. But a large network has to be used wisely and strategically to support your job search. Here are the key places to activate your network to generate success:
Clarifying your job search goals, career objectives and where you fit into the market
Network contacts can help you by explaining job types and skills sets in their field and by suggesting new ways your skills might be valuable. The best way to get this kind of information from your network is to simply ask. Exploring options and industry norms by talking with your network is important. Your network can be a reality check for your job search goals.
Helping you make new contact with people in your field, industry and job type
Your existing network is one of the best ways to expand your network. Ask current connections to help you create new connections. Consider sending an update email to a contact asking about his or her current work and challenges and updating on your job search. End by saying “Do you know anyone in the field I should talk to? If so I would love an introduction.” Or, be more specific by saying, “I see you work with the VP of Product Development. Could you introduce me so I can learn more about her challenges and offer my help?” Your current connections are often willing and eager to help but you have to ask.
Uncovering job leads and opportunities
Every person in your network has the potential to uncover a job opening for you. They are most likely to do so if they are aware of your expertise and goals so they can spot a match when they see it. Be sure to keep your network up to date on your goals and bring out your value. Make yourself memorable and ask them to keep their eyes out for opportunities. Thank anyone who sends you a lead, even if it did not materialize.
Giving you a warm introduction to a hiring manager or company
An insider introduction from someone in your network can greatly advance your candidacy for a job opening. Always look for someone in your network who can submit your resume directly to the recruiter or hiring manager. Resumes submitted by an insider stand out significantly compared to those that come in cold. LinkedIn can help you find insiders. Make it easy for your connection to help you by providing all your materials (resume, customized cover letter) along with the name, title and email of the person to whom you would like it submitted.
Sharing insights that will help you land the job
Use your insider to help you better understand the position, the goals and challenges being faced by the company and department, and any insights on the hiring manager or other leaders in the company. As you learn more, you will be able to customize your materials to the needs of the company, positioning yourself as a problem solver. These insider insights allow you to go into interviews ready to share your value exactly as it pertains to the needs of the company.
Offering input and feedback as you proceed through the interviewing process
Your network can help you gauge how you are doing pursuing a job and guide you in modifying your approach if necessary. They can also provide information you would not otherwise have, such as hiring manager’s concerns. It’s important to ask your network for this kind of help. If someone in your network helped you land an interview, he or she may feel awkward if you don’t get the job. Be proactive and positive saying you appreciate the lead. Make clear you would love feedback for improvement and future job leads.
As you troubleshoot your job search, look for more ways to make effective use of your network at each phase of your job search.