Looking to land a job but don’t know where to start? Networking is a crucial step in the job search process. If you’ve been reading about careers and jobs over the past several years, there’s no doubt you’ve read the best jobs never find their way to the newspaper want ads or online job boards. Why? Because they are filled by people who are referred by friends and colleagues.
Put yourself in the place of the person looking for a job candidate. If you place an ad in the paper or online, you may get hundreds of replies – only a few of which might be a fit for the job. But to find those few, you have to wade through all the others and that can take up a lot of your time. Even when you do find a resume that looks promising, that person is still a stranger to you, and you have no idea what kind of person or worker he/she might be.
On the other hand, what if a candidate is recommended to you by a trusted friend or colleague? Right away, you are more inclined toward that person because of who recommended them. (And you don’t have to do all that tedious reading of hundreds of unsuitable resumes.)
So, where does that leave you, the job seeker? Well, you want to be the candidate being recommended!
But here’s the catch – What if you don’t know anyone in the industry or company you’ve targeted? Does that mean you have to go back to the want ads? Not necessarily.
This is a classic opportunity to use your network. Now, even if you are quite young and only recently started on your career, you do still have a network. Think about it. Your network contains all those people you have gone through college with, any high school friends you’ve kept in touch with, your immediate and extended family, your friends, and more.
But the great thing about networking effectively is it can also give you access to the people in other people’s networks! So, maybe you don’t know anybody in the pharmaceutical industry who can refer you for a job there, but maybe someone in your network does.
How To Find A Friend To Help You Land A Job
Here are some ways to help grow your network so you can land a job:
Create A Spreadsheet
Here’s a good way to invest some time in your job search. If you don’t have an active network in some recorded form, such as a database or even a spreadsheet, start putting one together. Start by listing all the people you know in all the different areas of your life: family, friends, hobby clubs, political organizations you belong to, religious communities you are affiliated with, and anything else you can think of. Now, we’re not including people you haven’t been in touch with for years, but those with whom you have some kind of relationship with.
Let People Know You’re Looking
Next, let them all know you are looking for a new job. Tell them the type of work you want to do, what industry or even a specific company if you have selected one. Ask them if they know anyone in these areas and if they would be prepared to introduce you. You may be pleasantly surprised when you get a call from someone whose uncle is the vice president of your target company!
Search Your Online Networks
Next, think about your online network. Yes, I’m talking about LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on. If you surf around in your connections or “friends” at these enormous sites, you can often find they have connections that can be helpful to you. The best way of making use of these connections is to contact them directly, preferably by phone. Tell them what you’re doing, and explain you noticed they listed a certain person or company among their connections, and that you would very much appreciate an introduction. People who use LinkedIn, for example, are usually business/career minded and will readily help you meet others in their networks.
Join Relevant Associations Or Clubs
Another very effective way to make new friends who can help you find a job in a specific industry is to visit or join associations where they hang out. Let’s say, for example, you want to get into a pharmaceutical company. Are there any pharmaceutical associations in or near your city? Look for them online and read about what kind of people are members. Trade associations often allow people to attend a certain number of meetings as guests, so you don’t necessarily have to join right away.
Then of course, you must attend a meeting. Remember though, your purpose here is to meet people in the industry – not to ask people for a job. You might, for example, meet a senior executive in the industry and chat with them at the meeting. At a suitable point in the conversation, you might tell him or her that you are interested in working in the industry, and ask if they would be willing to meet with you – perhaps over coffee – to learn more about it. If you conduct yourself professionally, show a genuine interest in the person and their advice, they could decide they like you and be willing to help.
That could well mean you now have a friend in the industry who can help you land that job!
Author: TED HEKMAN