Yes, it’s true. While you may think jobs are gotten through people you know, it’s actually who your contacts know. Ninety percent of jobs are gotten through strangers. That’s why LinkedIn is such a great tool. Not only do you have a great repository for your own contacts, but once you connect with them, now you can see who THEY know.
Remember that when you network, you are not looking for a job, you are looking for information. It may not be a quick return on your time investment, but it will yield results in the long run. If you make a positive impression, you will be remembered when your contact does hear of an open position.
I also encourage my clients to have their own business card. Some call it a mini-resume. Just some key contact information and a little about your job target. Perhaps a little about your background on the back. And I also recommend having a professional photo on it. People can take your card and file it away for another day. A photo helps remind the contact who you are!
Don’t think you have to contact your network all at once. Schedule one or two a week and keep working at it, along with your other job search strategies.
I recently taught a class on job search skills at a local college and was surprised when one of the participants told her story about having an interview at a company. She mentioned how her son had worked there for many years, but she didn’t want to use his name, because she “wanted to get the job on my own merits.”
Her comment reminded me of the saying we’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Like Laura (not her real name), I can remember thinking negatively whenever I heard that someone got a job “like that.” Perhaps I was miffed I didn’t know anyone who could get me anywhere (at least anywhere I wanted to go). Somehow it made that practice seem underhanded and almost illegal.
In my HR career, there were many times where someone’s resume got reviewed because they knew someone. Indeed, several of the companies I worked at, gave an employee referral bonus for any employee who recommended a person who got the job. It’s the birds-of-a-feather syndrome with the theory being if your friend is a good employee, they will “flock” with similar types. (Note: It goes without saying to make sure the person referring you–IS a good employee.)
In all my experience, I can say that the referral got the resume or application reviewed, it didn’t guarantee a job. The individual still needed to be qualified for the job and be the right fit.
I’m not so naive to think that is always the way it is. Sure there are people that get jobs because their father or father-in-law or mother-in-law is the CEO or owner. It happens. We can’t change that. But in this day where the right jobs are few and far between, don’t hesitate to utilize a contact as a segue to have your resume reviewed. If you’re writing a cover letter, mention the person’s name in your introduction.
And don’t worry…you’ll have plenty of time to prove your own merits.
Although your network can be the key to your next transition, I find a lot of job seekers resist it. While it does take time to do–it could make or break your success.
Perhaps folks are uncomfortable with asking someone if they have a job. But here’s the good news–you don’t have to do that. Matter of fact, you should not do it. You are simply asking for some information.
First, do your homework. What is your job target? Can you come up with a list of companies where your target job would exist? Then, write a list of everyone you know. Identify which folks you feel most comfortable in talking with first (for whatever reason).
Then, you go on a scavenger hunt–trying to get information from each of those folks. You goal? To get to either a person who has a similar job like you want or find one of your targeted companies.
Before you contact anyone–imagine how your informational interview will go. How will you start your discussion? What questions will you ask? What information do you want from that person? How will you end it? How will you contact this person? People love to talk about their career journey, so having a good conversation with folks should be fairly easy.
Then start with one of the people on your list–start with an easy prospect first to give yourself practice. Besides some answers to your questions, ask the person on your list to give you 2 more names to contact. In that way your list of 10 will grow to 30.
If you continue to follow this recipe, your network will pretty soon increase like bunnies!
Although I’ve often heard about the theory of “6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon”–I never stopped to think about how this applies to networking. I’m sure you’ve met someone who knew someone you knew or lived near your old house or came from your home town. Well, make that principle work for you in networking.
Whether you’re a small business owner or looking for a job or information–start with your current network of friends and family. Maybe the person you know can direct you to someone who is in your targeted profession and maybe that person knows someone who works in one of the companies you want to work in.
I quickly learned in business, you cannot predict who might be able to connect you with a referral or potential client. It started soon after I got my coaching certification–I was selling my house and my Realtor knew someone who was in a transition and might be open to coaching. It took me by surprise then, but now I have seen how making connections works in the most surprising way.
LinkedIn and Facebook are excellent ways to expand your network. Adding quality comments or questions on a regular basis. Get your “people” to help you. Then, look at the connections of your friends and family. Add folks that you think might be worthwhile to add to your own network. That’s the way it grows–one person at a time!