A standout resume and LinkedIn profile are only half of the battle for getting noticed in your job search. The other half of job search success is getting your profile in front of the right people.
That’s where networking comes in. Effective job search networking is how you get your resume in front of the perfect person at the perfect time for the perfect job.
Nothing else matters until you can do this. For example, having the best interview answers in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t get noticed and invited to interview, right? So you need to get seen!
Did you know a company is far more likely to trust you and hire you if you were recommended by somebody they know? Here are a few other benefits to networking and getting introduced to a company:
Is networking during your job search intimidating? For most people, definitely. But is it doable? Absolutely. Here’s are the top three job search networking tips you need to know…
The first step is to come up with a list of people you can contact and ask for help.
Start your list by thinking about who you know. People to consider include friends, family, former bosses, colleagues, neighbors. You can also include what I’d call conversational acquaintances – people who you have conversations with here and there, but who you don’t consider friends.
Here’s the key: When you’re writing or typing up this list, you’re probably going to hear a little voice in your head telling you “that person won’t want to help me.” Or “I haven’t talked to her in two years, I better not include her.”
Ignore all of that. Brainstorm and write down everyone you can think of for five minutes without worrying. You can revise the list later but it’s going to be a much better list if you start by including everyone you can think of.
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for the next step…
Grow your list using LinkedIn’s search tools to look for people of interest. Look for hiring managers, recruiters, and specific companies worth targeting.
Make a list of these potential new contacts to grow your list further. Just like we did above, think of this process as a brainstorming session, not a final list you need to stick to 100%. It’s better to have too many names than not enough.
Now that you have a list of people who can potentially help you, it’s time to start sending out messages.
When you know the person, consider reaching out by email or phone. Make sure you communicate the role you are leaving and the type of role you’re looking for. It’s okay to ask for names, introductions and any words of wisdom. The key is that people can’t help you if they don’t know you’re looking, so you need to put yourself out there.
When you don’t know someone (or barley know them), you can reach out via Mail, LinkedIn’s InMail or do a bit of digging to figure out their professional email address.
Go to a company website, look at press releases and/or contact information to see how the company’s emails appear (i.e., BradPitt@MovieStar.com OR BPitt@MovieStar.com)
Open a search engine and enter @NameofCompany.com to see what pops up. Often times, you will uncover the name of people who work there that can help you extrapolate the email of the person you wish to target.
Here’s an example of a message you can send to start a conversation with somebody you don’t know:
I saw your profile on LinkedIn today while doing some research. I see you came over to Sony two years ago, how have you found the work environment so far as a software engineer? I’m in the middle of a job search myself and I’m weighing a few different options. I’ve always found it helpful to hear about the work environment from somebody within a company, rather than reading reviews online. Any info you can share would be a big help. Thanks!”
You’re doing a couple of things here. You’re starting a conversation (obviously), you’re asking for a specific response, and you’re keeping it pretty casual. You can’t ask for a big favor before somebody has even spoken with you. This is how I recommend getting the conversation started.
After they respond, ask another question, or comment on something they said. Soon you’ll be comfortable enough to ask if their group is hiring or if they’re able to help you get a conversation started with one of the managers.
Don’t forget this last step. It’s important part of effective job search networking.
Once your job search is over, be sure to thank everyone who offered you help, either through email or a hand-written note (if you have their address). That way they’ll be willing to help again in the future and your next job search will be even easier!
You can also reciprocate by checking in to ask about their wellness, share an article of interest, and offer to return the favor sometime in the future if they’re job searching.
Remember to be patient during this process too. Chances are your network will become busy, fail to follow up, forget to respond, etc. Schedule a reminder for yourself to reconnect with each person every three or four weeks. This is your opportunity to catch them up on what’s happening in your job hunt, and remind them that you had asked for their help.
In fact, this is good job search advice in general: Never be afraid to follow up if a few weeks have passed and you’re waiting to hear from someone.
It doesn’t matter if it’s for networking, for sending an interview follow up email to get feedback, or anything else.
Think of how much effort goes into approaching somebody to network, or landing an interview. Now think how little time it takes to follow-up to remind them you’re waiting to hear from them. It’s definitely worth doing!
Together with a top-notch, achievement-rich resume and LinkedIn profile written for today’s online readers (skimmers), you will have all the tools you need for a successful job search.
Even if one person in your network has access to a job or company you didn’t know about, it can get you invited to interview, and if you say the right things in your interview, you’re one or two steps away from a job offer.
This whole job search networking process can make the difference between landing a job and having to keep job hunting!
But they can’t help you if you don’t talk to them. Go give it a try now, the first step is easy. Start brainstorming a list for five minutes. Who do you know that you can tell about your job search?
About this guest author:
In need of some career advice, a refreshed resume or rebranded LinkedIn? As the founder and chief writer at Virginia Franco Resumes, I offer customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker. I would be happy to chat!