How To Use Networking As A Job Search Strategy
How to find a
job through career or professional networking
contacting potential employers through the networking process
is still a very successful job search strategy in many industries
Networking is used for many business and social purposes. In job search,
career networking / professional networking, is the oldest method used to find a job in the
hidden job market
(unadvertised jobs). The hidden job market can be accessed through leads
from your contacts who are referred
to as your network.
network consists of people, who can link you to a job opportunity by
providing you with valuable job search information in the following areas:
By providing company or business information
By telling you what is going on in your industry
Providing referrals to people who may be able to help you
Give you leads on jobs coming up in the future
Advise you on what skills or qualities the employer values
Who are people in your
people you could have met through your job (ie wholesalers
or suppliers you dealt within a regular basis, friends and relations, people
you know through sporting bodies, or other recreational activities and of
course, mates down the pub. Other professional networks are industry groups
or affiliations, alumni associations, rotary clubs etc. In fact, when
you start your career you should become be a paid up member of you industry
association or affiliation and attend all events if possible to build and retain your
If you use career / professional networking as a job search strategy, you do not
have to ask people in your network they know of any job
openings. You ask for advice to assist you in your job search.
So don't be
afraid of networking. People are generally very flattered to be asked for
career advice and are generally
more helpful than you would expect, as long as you make it clear you are not
asking for a job or even asking to be referred to a job.
Is there proof that career or professional networking works?
professional consensus in the recruitment industry is that between75%-80% of
jobs are thought to be in the Hidden Job Market. That is, they are
never advertised and are filled through direct referrals from employees,
from job seekers themselves or employment agencies. There are many reasons why employers will take referrals
from others, and people who have made prior contact. For example,
The expense of advertising in terms of
money and loss of production hours and tying up their phones, which may result in lost business.
Some employers do
not have the skills to do their own recruitment.
employers are so busy they put
it off, and staff may be doing overtime, which can leave to discontent in
will often take referrals from their own staff because employees/former
employees generally only refer people who they know are reliable and will
not let them down.
use career networking and
cold calling effectively to look
for work, are
considered to be more motivated and pro-active. So if someone comes along at
the right time they will consider you for the job.
personal experience in job search training confirms this career or
professional networking figure, although
the jobs were filled by less skilled people – usually blue-collar
workers. In nearly every workshop between 90% - 100% of participants
found their last job through someone they knew or through friends of friends.
where people successfully use networking to find a job
are in technical areas such as IT and
engineering and in industries such as mining and construction, and transport.
There is a
great deal of resistance to planned career / professional networking,
even among people who traditionally find a job through this source.
They really don't understand how to use networking as a
job search strategy.
It is not
just good luck - you may have to work at it.
It is a very challenging
exercise and takes a great deal of effort to get going. Once you have made
one or two networking or cold calling phone calls by following the advice given in this section, or
have written two networking letters, it becomes
sample job applications
reluctance to network for jobs, is generally because job seekers are not considering
their network in a broader
Most people say, “the people I know can’t help me”. That may be
what if someone contacted you for
advice would you try and give them ideas?
may not know anything, but maybe you know someone that
people in your network also have a network of friends, family, neighbours,
former colleagues and supervisors.
People you meet casually have friends who may have knowledge that can help
you. You do need to guide them to see that they do have a lot of
people within their own network, by framing your approach in the right way.
We will discuss this later.
Develop your networking
The first step in to write a
list of people in you know.
assist you to recognise people in your network by placing them into
categories, i.e. former colleagues, fellow students, relations etc. When you
have brain stormed the categories of people you can contact, make a list of
individuals in each of these categories. Your networking list will gradually expand as
you become more confident: Keep good records.
How to use networking as a job search
Before you start to contact people you have identified as your career
networking list, you need to be clear on what information
you want from them. What is your objective?
You need to
prepare what you are going to say - pen and paper ready.
a person at work, ask if is convenient to speak – say you will only be a few
minutes. Don’t be evasive. Say you want their advice. Be prepared to ring
back at a more convenient time. Keep your diary handy.
yourself within the context of your relationship (i.e. I used to work with
you at Woolworths). Engage in a bit of small talk and then get to the point
of your call.
for a job or even hint that you expect them to refer you to a job.
and say that you are now unemployed (or have been retrenched) and ask them
if they have any suggestions of which companies (or where) you can try. Also ask if they have any contacts in your line of work that may know about
your industry. If re-entering employment or changing career direction you
may also ask them to look at your resume and suggests possible career areas
you may not have though obvious: Other people can often identify areas of
employment you hadn't identified.
useful approach is to say that you are just doing some job search planning.
For example, you may say “you may not know that I have been out of work for
a period and I have been looking for work. I just want to know if you
know anything about what is happening in the Oil and Gas Industry at the
moment. Do you know of any projects coming up?” Or you may say, “Do you
know anyone in the field I could talk to?” This is just an example. It may
be the building Industry or any other identified field. Don’t forget to
remind them of your occupation and qualifications.
approach will depend upon the area of work you are looking for. For example,
in you last job you may have dealt with suppliers. These people are a great
career networking source. Contact them, because they get to know if a company they
sell to or have a service contract with has a job opening, or know who has
won a contract for work in your field.
you are speaking to people over the phone or in person,
carefully to what is being said and make notes. Use active listening
skills, i.e. say “yes” “ I understand” “ok” or “ah- huh”.
Naturally you will have your own style of active listening.
If given a
contact name, confirm details carefully. You won’t get a second chance.
Ø Thank them
for their advice and say “If you do hear of anything can you let me
know?” Give your contact details. This approach will allow them to think it over. They may ring you later to let you know about a job.
follow up as soon as possible and make a record of your contact outlining
your discussion. You will forget. If you get a positive lead don’t forget
to thank the person who referred you and advise them of the outcome.
keeping is crucial.
Approaching people who you have been referred
to by someone in your career network
(A) Approach by phone
yourself. Say who referred you or who suggested you ring. ·
Ask if they
have a minute.
upon response, state briefly that John/Jill thought you
was happening in the X industry, for example.
know what skills you have.
Ask them if
they know anyone else who might be able to provide you
Ask if you can use their name as a referral.
Approach by letter
The aim of
a referral letter is to gain a face-to-face meeting. In order to do this
you must ask for a meeting and you must be clear on the information you
expect to be supplied. The following example is aimed at gaining
information about what is happening in a specific industry.
address of the organisation and title or role of the person you
wish to speak to. I have many examples where a company moved premises
although the number remained the same, or had been diverted and the jobseeker
went to the wrong address. Your contact may have outdated information and/or
they may still be listed at the same address and have moved within the same
clear on your objective. It may be
that your objective is to find out what skills are needed in particular job,
or you may be wanting a career change and want to know more about a specific
industry. Whatever your needs you must be must be clear on what you want
from the contact and your contact must also know what you want.
reference to the person who referred you (you must gain permission for this)
James suggested I contact you. He said you had a very good knowledge of the
mining industry and generally know what is happening.”
briefly your occupation and the type of work you are looking for.
am a Plant Maintenance Engineer and have just completed a contract with
Western Mining” and I want to go back on site. John said you would probably
know what projects are coming up.”
follow within about 2-3 days of the letter arriving. You may however, have
difficulty getting to the person and may have a problem getting past the
Do not leave a message. Say that the person you
want to speak to is expecting your call.
When you reach your contact
suggest some possible dates. Don’t just say “anytime”.
approach nearly always works. “What day Tuesday or Thursday”, get a day and
then say “morning or afternoon.”
cold calling letters that can be used for career networking in
sample job applications
and links below.
Meeting face to face
the meeting and you know your objective. Be prepared for this interview and
have questions ready. Be prepared to take notes.
face-to-face interview can lead to more than just information. If the
person likes you he/she may refer you to a job at a later date. He/she may
even go so far as to arrange a meeting that will lead to a job.
the opportunity to use all your interpersonal skills to make an impression.
You must conduct yourself in the same manner as you would in an interview.
Dress and communicate as though it is a job interview. Don't give any 'off
the record" comments. That is, don't give away your previous
employer's confidential information and don't criticise anyone.
over the time allocated unless the contact states it is ok to do, and don’t forget to ask
for another referral.
This is an
example of the basic theory. Ideally you will write an
Prospecting letters for cold calling and career networking.
Cold calling letter to an employment agency
Basic cold calling letter to an employer - lower
Cold calling letter to an employer - graduate
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