How important is networking in your job search? Take a look at the astonishing numbers surrounding how job hunters ultimately become gainfully employed.
14% of job hunters get jobs through newspaper classifieds.
13% of job hunters get jobs through employment agencies
5% of job hunters get jobs through career services on college campuses.
NEARLY 64% OF JOB HUNTERS GET JOBS THROUGH NETWORKING!
Does this mean that you should only concentrate on networking and neglect all other resources available to you? The answer is NO. An effective job campaign is well rounded and does not rely on any one method to achieve results. The numbers are provided as a guide for you to recognize how much time should be spent on each activity. Most job hunters limit their job search looking through classified ads. That is a big mistake. As you can see, the bulk of job search activity should be spent networking.
Most job hunters purposely neglect networking because they feel it can be uncomfortable and believe it takes too much effort - and they are right. A job search can have its uncomfortable moments - especially when you are unprepared - and looking for a job is in itself a full time job. The process could be less intimidating if you (1) are committed (2) get organized (3) start your search with an action plan. To make networking work for you, lets take a look at your options and how to prepare your contacts to help you.
Make a list of all the people you know and split the list into three distinct areas:
These are individuals that know your industry. They have contacts of their own and they can make phone calls on your behalf. There main function is to help you gain employment in your chosen field.
From the contact list that you have created, identify those individuals who would not necessarily be able to help you land a job, but they are capable of helping you in your job search in another capacity - as a sounding board.
Don't waste your time
Differentiate between who can help you and who can't. Don't spend energy on the contacts that mean well but are not in the position to help you. A good networking contact is one that has the resources to help you and is willing to share them.
Preparing Your Business Contacts
Once a contact agrees to help you in your job search, it is important that you properly prepare them. Your contact must be armed with information concerning your immediate and long-term goals and a copy of your rsum (on quality paper).
"Hey John, if you know of a job opening in the IT field keep me in mind", is just not enough. Educate your contact on what specific job title, company, and location you are searching. Be as specific as you can. When your contact agrees to help you, DON'T stop there. Ask them a follow-up question. An example would be, "Thanks John for agreeing to show my rsum around, I really appreciate it. Can I ask you a question? In the circles that you run in, who might you think would be able to help me?"
Guiding your contact into thinking of potential opportunities can get the ball rolling. Empty promises will not get you results. Educated 'yeses' do.
Preparing Your Support Network
Carefully choose the individuals that are going to help you through emotionally. Creating a team of unsupportive players will undoubtedly make your job search that much difficult. Let your support know how it is that they can help you. If you don't want unsolicited advice, let them know. Prepare them to be the motivators you are searching for.
"John thanks for agreeing to be part of my support system. I wanted to share with you my feelings regarding the job search process and how I see you fitting in. At times I may just need to ramble and vent and I just need a friendly shoulder to lean on. I will not be necessarily looking for answers, but rather a sympathetic ear. Do you think you will be able to help me out on this?
Make a conscious choice as to whom you are going to confide in. Make sure that they have the following characteristics. ...supportive ...non-judgmental ...positive ...motivator ...a sense of humor ...reliable.
Realize You Are Job Hunting ALL of the time...
whether you realize it or not. Companies have job openings constantly and your contacts are aware of these opportunities. When you freely discuss your negative work habits two things are likely to occur (1) your contacts will know of a 'hidden' opportunity and will not feel comfortable referring you and (2) when you are actively looking for employment you will be surprised as to how many of your contacts will not return your phone calls.