Networking is the Way

During the current economic downturn it’s true there aren’t an abundance of job openings out there and traditional job search methods often aren’t productive. But there is a hidden market of jobs in many areas.  They usually aren’t advertised in the classified, on websites or at employment agencies. You have to dig deep to find them.  A good deal of preparation, planning, and patience is needed to find one of these hidden jobs. Follow the outlined steps consistently.


1. Know thyself:  Dig deep and get to know yourself.  Take a look at your childhood. Peruse photos of yourself as a child.  Talk to friends and ask relatives about what you liked to do as a child, your skills and so forth. Explore other periods in your life in the same way.  Write these observations down in an organized fashion and you will be ready to begin networking.


2.  Begin building a network: If networking is to work for you, you must gather your confidence and really “put yourself out there.”  Anywhere you go in your daily life, take a chance and “strike up a conversation” with people – there are many stories of how this has brought opportunities for employment.


3.  Begin researching companies: Choose a few companies that you would like to work for.  Find out all you can about these companies.  Buy a good notebook and write the information down in some organized way.  As you research the job market and your selection of companies, meet other people and get to know them, they can help you in your search.  These efforts will likely bring discomfort, at times, but it will get easier.


4. Continue networking on a more concentrated scale:  When your job market and company research are going well, get serious about networking within companies.  Concentrate on establishing relationships with company employees. 


5.  Have a plan:  Determine some specific areas you are interested in, call and make a short, 20 minute appointment with the company manager that you have discovered through a contact. Tell the manager you are interested in learning about his company.

Before you go to the appointment, prepare ahead of time. Have business cards made.  Always prepare some questions to ask. Make it a friendly – a getting to know session. Bring your network notebook to the appointment.  


6.  At the meeting after a bit of small talk, begin asking questions and taking notes. Don’t bring a resume – this is an information interview.  Be sure to ask for suggestions of who else you might call for an information interview the Watch the clock.  Convey your “thanks” and trade business cards.  Promptly write a handwritten thank you note, not an email.  Be specific in your message and say you will keep in touch. Do just that – keep in touch.  Call again with thanks for the referrals and perhaps ask a few more questions about the company.  Keep the conversation very short.  People in hiring positions do keep an eye on your job search.  You begin to be perceived as a possible future employee. Your true character will show through.


7. After you have found contacts at the various companies you are interested in and have had information interviews, send your resume to some of the managers you have talked to.  Make your resume unique, different from the traditional ones that often get lost in the black hole. Your resume should address specific jobs.  Show how you can benefit the company. Tell your stories in order to highlight your skills.  Use strong, interesting verbs and adjectives. Follow through with occasional notes or phone contacts.


8. While you wait for responses, try working short-term for a temporary agency.  Try finding an internship (either paid or unpaid) to add to your people and work skills.  Don’t forget the possibility of doing some kind of volunteer work.  When you give back – it gives structure to your life.


It takes a lot of effort, time and creativity to find the limited number of job openings available at this time.  You have to open yourself up, remain confident and be persistent in pursuing a job in ways that may be uncomfortable and non-traditional.