Step 2 to Land a New Job: Use Your Network

There’s no doubt about it, finding a new job is a bit daunting and very time consuming.  HR4D Consulting is here to help you break it down into manageable steps to make it feel a bit less overwhelming!  Our 5-step guide includes the 5 main steps in the process with 5 key tips for each step. Here we are on step 2 of your path to landing your perfect job.  Last week we covered what it takes to write a killer resume.  This week we are going to cover how to use your network!  

I’ll continue sharing each of these steps with you in a series over the next 4 weeks, but if you are one of those people who want it all at once, email us here and we can send you the guide now! 

Step 2:  Use Your Network  

  1. Let LinkedIn help you.  Most of you likely have a LinkedIn profile but are not using it to its max potential.  Your LinkedIn profile acts as a door to building your network based on where you work today, where you went to college, where you have previously worked, people you met at a networking event, and many other ways.  It is a great tool to build and maintain a robust network. Additionally, while it may not be obvious, it is important to realize that most recruiters are using LinkedIn as a major recruiting tool.  They use it to source and find passive candidates for the positions they are filling.  They also use it to check out the credentials and experiences of the people who are applying to those positions. It is important that your LinkedIn profile tells your story and matches your resume.  It doesn’t have to include all the details of your resume, but your work history including companies, titles and dates should match so it doesn’t create a red flag.  
  2. Proactively go beyond just “connecting”.  Get out there and talk with your network and let them know you are searching for a job.  Estimates are that up to 80% of jobs are never posted online, which means you have to use more informal methods to find the opportunities.  You have to go beyond just connecting on LinkedIn or emailing people.  Networks are really just a fancy way of saying building relationships.  As much as we all love our technology, digital is not the best way to build relationships.  Instead, put a little sweat equity into it, and have as many coffees and lunches with people you know as you possibly can.  I know some of you may worry about confidentiality, so when you get together, ask them to be discrete – but don’t ask for it to be secret or they won’t be able to help you much!
  3. Don’t ask your contacts for a job.  Networking can feel awkward, especially if you feel like you need something from the other person.  Take some pressure off of yourself and them, and don’t ask them for a job!  The likelihood is that the company they work for doesn’t have an opening right now that fits your skillset.  Instead, use your coffee and lunch meetings to see if they have anyone in their network they recommend you talk with. As you connect with more people, you grow your network and increase the likelihood that someone on the path will know of a position that might be a good fit for you.  One last key part of this is to find a way to reciprocate.  I love to ask people how I can help them, now or in the future.  This is a key to the relationship part of networking – you aren’t just asking them for something but offering a longer-term reciprocal relationship.
  4. Ask connections to put in a good word.  If you’ve identified a position that you think is a good fit and are applying, do some research before sending in the application.  Do you know anyone that works at that organization?  Do you think they would be willing to put in a good word for you?  These are people to make a priority to connect with (see point #3) and use that time to learn more about how they view the company you are considering applying to.  If you have a connection that you trust and can legitimately vouch for your work, ask them if they can put in a good word for you with HR and the hiring manager.  At most companies, having someone internal give a referral like this goes a long way to helping you secure an interview.  One caution – it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, mean you get the job.  But it can help get your foot in the door, so you have an opportunity to showcase your skills during an interview.  
  5. Make it a habit.  The best time to grow and nurture your network is when you are not looking for a job! Make building relationships a regular routine.  I know it’s hard and time consuming.  But, think of it as a way to keep investing in yourself and a way to practice for when you want to be ready to present your very best. You never know when your network might be the exact thing that helps you land your perfect job!

Time to get past the awkwardness of networking.  Instead focus on building relationships and investing in your career.  Your network is likely your best path to finding your next job.    

Next up in this series – preparing for the interview. Now, get out there and have coffee with your network!

Jennifer is a seasoned leader and executive coach with more than 20 years experience including as a Chief Human Resources Officer overseeing the HR and Communications functions. She is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation.

HR4D’s mission is to ensure our client organizations fulfill their visions, by adopting their goals as ours, creating solutions that are right for them, and making the people who hire us professionally successful.  Contact us to learn more!