Being skilled at your job, having the right qualifications and work experience and having a finely tuned cover letter and resume are all excellent tools to have in your job seeking tool box, but there’s one tool that too often gets overlooked…networking to find a job.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know…it’s who you know.”?
When it comes to job seeking, knowing the right people and leveraging those relationships responsibly through networking can make your job seeking quest infinitely easier.
Knowing someone who knows someone else can help move your finely tuned cover letter and resume out of the massive computer sorted “submission” pile and into the hands of the hiring manager, which in turn can help transform you from job seeker to gainfully employed.
Proper networking can also mean hearing ahead of time that a department is hiring, or that a job you’ve been angling for is opening up…even before the listing is posted! In many cases, solid industry connections are just as important in the quest for a new job as the skills and knowledge you bring to the table.
Top 5 Networking Tips For Job Seekers
Now that we’ve covered what networking is, how you can use it to help secure a job and what the most common mistakes you can make with your network are…let’s wrap it all up with our top five networking tips:
1. Work on your elevator pitch
With all this networking you’re getting ready to do, you never know who you’re going to end up talking to, or how they can ultimately help you in your job search quest, which is why having your elevator pitch perfected and ready to go is absolutely critical.
Working on refining your elevator pitch should start even before you start your networking. No, really…it’s that important! We’ve covered elevator pitches in depth so this is just a quick overview.
Remember, a good pitch is a 30-60 second summary of who you are, what you do, and why you’re the perfect candidate. That’s it! Nothing more, nothing less. It might sound easy, but it takes practice…which is why you need to start on it early in your networking process.
2. Send out job networking letters
In the age of instant messages, chats and tweets, it’s hard to believe that old fashioned letters could still be a part of networking, but they are! In fact, sending out just one well written networking letter can be more valuable to your networking goals than a hundred tweets!
Now, before we go too much further, remember… a networking letter is NOT a letter you use to ask for a job. Networking letters are letters you send out to friends, friends of friends and professional contacts asking them for career advice, introductions, job leads…anything and everything that will help you in your professional job search.
Again, this is networking, and you’re reaching out to your current contacts in the hopes that they’ll be able to connect you with others in your chosen industry, so keep your letters friendly, professional, and brief.
Read Also: How Long Is Too Long For A Resume?
3. Join professional organizations
We touched on formal networking a little earlier in this post and wanted to expand on it further here.
For just about every job imaginable, there are associated professional organizations that you can join. Many organizations have social mixers, professional development seminars and workshops.
They’re also the perfect place for you to look for a mentor as many organizations offer programs where they pair younger members with industry veterans.
Attending these events are an excellent way for you to meet other like-minded individuals, learn about trends in your industry and keep up breaking information, ad if you’re in the right spot at the right time, learn about unadvertised job openings.
4. Update your network frequently and stay in touch.
Remember that list we made earlier of your professional networking contacts? Make sure to always keep it fresh and updated.
That means reaching out to your network on a regular basis and touching base. Even if it’s just a friendly hello and a quick call to catch up, showing genuine interest in what they’re doing is all part of the relationship building.
It’s also a great opportunity to update them on how you’re doing and what’s going on in your world. You never know when a simple friendly call to say hello could turn into a conversation that leads to your dream job.
5. Conduct informational interview
Unlike a formal interview where your goal is to secure a job at the end of the conversation, an information interview is essentially a casual conversation between you and someone who is working in the field or industry you’re interested in.
Rather than the conversation revolving around what you bring to the table, it’s an opportunity for you to get advice and information. Not only will you gain valuable firsthand insights into the job and industry you’re interested in, but you’ll also potentially end up with insider knowledge you can apply when writing your resume and cover letter and later on, interviewing.
Ultimately, you’ll want to build a relationship with the people you conduct informational interviews with that will extend beyond just a single meeting or two. By developing rapport and a genuine connection, you’re connecting with professionals who may be able to forward you job leads or introduce you to the people who will be able to hire you in the future.
Do your research ahead of time to determine who the best people are for you to contact. Reach out to them and let them know what you’re doing and why you’re interested. Often times people will be willing to talk to you about their careers if they feel you’re genuinely interested in their advice and suggestions.