Top jobs aren’t always advertised, and even when they are, the best prospect is often identified well ahead of the recruitment process. To ensure that you maximise your own chances of landing a new position, consideration should be given for the relationships you’ve already formed, and the people you already know.
While many job seekers approach job search networking with an all-or-nothing attitude, this can also be harmful to your job search results. If you’re looking for a new position, avoid publicly announcing this fact to everyone you know, as you could easily appear ‘desperate’. Also, be careful when contacting old colleagues who you’ve lost contact with, with a sudden ‘I need a job’ conversation.
Develop long term networking relationships
People value on-going, trustworthy relationships, and are more likely to recommend you for a new position, if you’ve already proven your skills, knowledge and attitudes. If you are planning on changing roles, within the next six to twelve months, this is the time to start your job search networking now. Revisit those previous relationships, get to know what your old colleagues are up to now, and take a genuine interest in their company and their own personal goals.
Start your job search networking contact list
To get started on developing a list of people, who may be able to assist you in your job search, find a pen and paper, or open up a contact management program. You will need to be able to sort your contacts into categories, or groups, and add in extra information as required.
Start by adding the key people in your life, who you have had a positive relationship with, from the following areas:
- Previous employers.
- Previous colleagues, even from different departments.
- Previous clients.
- Associates from volunteer, sporting or community organisations.
- People you’ve met at conferences or work events.
- Previous teachers or classmates.
- Friends who also work in a related field to yourself.
Most people end up with list containing 50 to 200 people.
Gathering Contact Details and Getting In Touch
Once you have your list, start by choosing people who you would like to make contact with again, to help you during your job search. You will need to prioritise your efforts, and work towards valuable relationships, rather than attempting to make contact, and keep in contact, with everyone on your list. If you’re finding that a particular person becomes less of a priority, then you can select someone else from elsewhere in your list, and focus your efforts there instead.
- Add people you know well on Facebook, in case they are not there already, but ensure your personal page is strictly professional, and only gives off a good impression.
- Follow and get in touch with people on Twitter, and most importantly, start up a conversation, even if it is only about the weather.
- Update your profile on LinkedIn for your job search and contact/add all the professional contacts from your list. Have a look at their profile and updates, then send them a message to catch-up and make a reference to something they’ve done or said recently.
- Maintain an e-mail contact list, and if it isn’t linked with your phone, also add in the numbers to your mobile. Do your research. Update the data, and use the Internet to find out the current numbers and addresses of the people you know. Visit their company webpage, and take an interest in what they do.
- Make contact casually, without mentioning jobs or employment. Take an interest in your contacts life, the things that interest them, and the things they have personally achieved. Ask them out for coffee, or a meal. Suggest a catch-up meeting.
- Remember relationships take time, but they can support you through many stages of your career, not just your current job search. Put the effort in now, and the rewards will come.