The Most Practical Guide to Job Search Networking

Job search networking is one of the best ways to look for a job and also one which is often overlooked.

During their job search people typically contact a few recruiters and also search for openings on job sites. There is nothing wrong with this and recruiters/job sites should be part of your efforts to find jobs. However, you should also look beyond these job search methods and try to get in touch with people in your target companies directly.

This is done by using your existing network/contacts and also by adding new people to your network. There are a number of things you can gain through such job search networking, including:

  • Making others aware of your job search and what you are looking for.
  • Getting valuable information about the industries and companies you are interested in.
  • Finding out about jobs which might not have been advertised yet and/or jobs for which companies have not been able to find suitable candidates for a while, through jobs sites and recruiters.

So let’s go through a few questions to help explain the concept/process of job search networking in more detail….

What happens when a company needs to hire someone for a particular job opening?

For an employer, using recruiters and/or job boards to find suitable candidates is not always the ideal option. They need to pay a fee to use these mediums, might need to go through a ton of resumes/candidates and there is more uncertainty about the quality of candidates.

So the logical thing for the employer/hiring manager to do is to first (or simultaneously) look inside the company for suitable people to fill the post. They will also ask their trusted network of co-workers, relatives, friends and other contacts for referrals (of suitable people they know and/or have worked with previously). In this way, they can avoid paying recruiters/job sites, deal with fewer candidates and might also have more confidence in the quality of people referred by their trusted network.

What can you do to take advantage of this, during your search for job opportunities?

You need be in touch with and get yourself on the radar screen of enough people, in an effort to either directly meet a hiring manager looking to fill a job, or alternatively be referred to such a hiring manager.

How do you go about meeting people and expanding your network? (This is where job search networking helps).

1) Start by using your existing contacts/network. This includes family, friends, professional contacts, fellow alumni and so on. Make a list of all such people, along with their contact details. Include all your contacts and not just those people who have relevant experience, or hold powerful positions. Remember, it’s less about ‘who you know’ and more about ‘who they know’ (for example, an aunt who has never been in the corporate world, might go for an evening walk with the wife of a senior professional in your target company). Such lists typically include anywhere from 50 to 250 people.

Once you have a decent number in the list, start getting in touch with people on the list. Inform them of your plans to find jobs, ask for advice/information, ask for referrals and also for any job leads.

2) Then find and contact people who you don’t already know. The best way to do this quickly is through online networking and the best tool for online networking is LinkedIn. You can use LinkedIn to find people in your target industry/companies and request them to spare 15-20 minutes (via phone or in-person), to provide you with some advice, job leads and referrals. (I will be writing another article shortly, with details on how exactly to use/navigate LinkedIn).

You can also use events, such as seminars, conferences, industry association meetings, etc. to meet, greet and network with relevant people.

Will people you contact during your job search networking, actually respond to your requests?

Many will not. However, most of my clients are pleasantly surprised by the large number of people who do. You will get many positive responses because:

  • People like to feel important/respected and give advice to others
  • Many people genuinely want to help others
  • People might relate to your situation, since they have been through a job search themselves
  • Other people want to expand their own network and learn new things as well and think you might be a good contact for such purposes
  • The person might be looking for someone with your background for a job they need to fill

What should you say when you contact people, to get help for finding jobs?

It is usually easier to contact people who you know well and you will know the best way to approach each person. Therefore I will not focus on contacting such people and will provide tips for contacting people who you don’t know well or don’t know at all.

> Approach 1: Request for information/advice and not for a job

This technique often has good response rates, since it puts people at ease and makes them more open to read/respond to your request, when you are not asking for a job. Here is an example of a script/message:

Opening/Introduction

Dear ________,

I came across your profile on LinkedIn and was hoping I could ask you for some career related advice. (- OR – I received your contact information from XYZ, who suggested that you would be an excellent source for some career related advice – OR – It was great to meet with you/hear you speak at XYZ event and as discussed, I am getting in touch to seek some career related advice)

Your Background

To give you a brief overview of my background, I am a senior Finance Professional, with experience primarily in the Telecom industry. On the education front, I graduated with a Masters in Finance from NUS.

More Information on Help You Want

I am thinking of continuing my career in the Consumer Goods industry and needed guidance on a few areas/questions, such as:

  • Advice on the companies I have shortlisted and on other companies that I could consider
  • Practicality of the career move I am considering and what I can do to increase the success of my job search
  • Whether my thoughts and expectations about the industry are in fact true

Closing

Given your expertise in the industry, I would greatly appreciate if you could spend 15-20 minutes providing your thoughts/guidance, which will really help me plan my career and job search. I look forward to hearing from you and also to the opportunity to meet/speak with you.

> Approach 2: Request for information/advice AND for job leads

Sometimes it is not feasible (or plausible) to only ask for information and you might need to take a more direct approach. Here is an example of a script/message:

Opening/Introduction

Dear ________,

I came across your profile on LinkedIn and was hoping you could help me with a career related matter. (- OR – I received your contact information from XYZ, who suggested that you might be able to help me with a career related matter – OR – It was great to meet with you/hear you speak at XYZ event and as discussed, I am getting in touch to check if you might be able to help me with a career related matter)

Your Background

To give you a brief overview of my background, I am a senior Finance Professional, with experience primarily in the Telecom industry. On the education front, I graduated with a Masters in Finance from NUS.

More Information on Help You Want

I am on the lookout for suitable roles in the Consumer Goods industry and would appreciate your help/guidance on a few areas, such as:

  • Any relevant job leads/openings that you might know of in the industry
  • Contacts for people/departments in your company, where my background could add value
  • Advice on other companies that I could consider
  • What I can do to increase the success of my job search

Closing

Given your expertise in the industry, I would greatly appreciate if you could spend 15-20 minutes providing your thoughts/guidance, which will really help me plan/advance my job search. I look forward to hearing from you and also to the opportunity to meet/speak with you.

What are the possible outcomes from the discussion?

Seems like a bit of a long-winded approach to find jobs. Is it really worth it?

Trust me. It works and I see the results regularly with my clients, one of whom provided this feedback recently –

I just did as you told me to and now a person from Credit Suisse asked for my resume, another lady from Apple asked me if I would be interested in a job and a person from Walton International emailed me asking if I would like to interview for a particular role.

Either way, I’m not asking you to abandon all other ways to look for a job and use only job search. Try job search networking in addition to recruiters and job boards. You have nothing to lose.

3 Replies to “The Most Practical Guide to Job Search Networking”

  1. am a HR professional currently having the poorest of luck to work with Allegis Talent 2. They are servicing my company and could not lived to the reputation of being top 4 RPO globally. The onsite team is extremely rude, ignorant and most of the time, you cannot reach anyone for help. Hiring managers and employees alike suffer when no one is picking up the line or responding to emails. And when they do is to insist that they are here to build relationships but not the actual work. They are really expensive (we used another agency MNC too and they are much cheaper), inadequate and do not know their job scope. & the best part, the account director (just a functional title) is very rude, and is not consultative and often caught her at the desk, cleaning her nails or messing with her mobile phone. So not just job seekers suffer, as HR we get the short end too from agencies. I will never recommend AT2 for employment seeking or candidate search. Total waste of money and space

  2. Hi Amit,

    My name is Mladen, I am form Serbia and I’m looking for a job in Singapore.Got some promises but I have to do something coz as far as I can see so far I have only ticket to Singapore. I need to find a job for myself and my girlfriend as well. Ticket are for middle of September 2011.Can you help us about that?

    Kind regard from

    Mladen

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