Over lunch on the weekend with a group of friends, the conversation turned to job search as two of the attendees were in the market for a new role.
As women who had held senior roles they were quite comfortable in tapping into their network of contacts to explore opportunities.
This got me thinking about some of my recent clients. As a career coach I deal with many people who have been retrenched, gone through an outplacement program, or those who are just frustrated by receiving the ‘thanks but no thanks’ response to roles they have applied for because they only use one channel – job boards to search for new roles.
The reality is that 70-80% of jobs are not advertised, so if you are looking for a new role you need to tap into this hidden job market through networking as one of your strategies.
Many people have anxiety attacks when they hear the word networking and yet we all do it frequently in our everyday lives. It all comes down to how you think about it.
I am an avid horse racing fan and therefore attended the recent spring racing carnival. Whilst I attended with friends, each day someone in the group saw someone else they knew and introduced them.
In these social situations, when people meet you for the first time they typically ask what you do for a living and my experience has been that people respond to this question quite easily. Through these simple introductions you broaden your network of contacts.
So why is it so difficult when you are looking for a new role, when the principle is the same?
Maybe it’s because people fear rejection but job search networking is not about asking your network for a job, it’s about gathering information and advice about the type of roles you are looking for and building your contact base.
As I said before it all comes down to mindset, so you have to be open and willing to share with people you meet not only who you are but what you are looking for. Before you can do that you need to be clear on what that is.
In my experience the best way to do this is to conduct a self-evaluation by considering when you were at your most engaged. What work were you doing and in what environment?
Once you have done this, consider the types of roles and industries you are interested in.
You can then create your elevator pitch and practice it with friends and family until you are confident to express it naturally and succinctly.
Next you need to identify your network list. When building your network list don’t limit your thinking to just work associates, your network list should also consider friends & relations, sporting or recreational contacts, children’s school activities contacts, Facebook contacts, professional contacts through Linkedin or industry groups, former student contacts or former colleagues.
Don’t be shy about contacting your network and seeking to gain further information, people generally enjoy helping others.
Like the ladies I was lunching with they were talking to their network to seek information on a specific company, a specific industry, whether there is anyone they could be referred to for more information or what skills or qualities are valued in the roles they are interested in.
They were not doing a hard sell or putting anyone in an awkward position by asking for a job but gathering relevant information and broadening their network of contacts.
I am not suggesting this as a standalone strategy but like my friends, you have a choice to take a proactive approach to your job search by networking and who knows you may actually enjoy yourself!
Written by Michelle O’Neil