by March 29, 2013on
As the economy continues to slowly lurch its way out of the recent recession, the growth of available positions remains stagnant across many fields of employment. It appears to be as challenging as ever for recent graduates and professionals yearning to change occupations to ascertain new positions in the job market. One way to gain a competitive advantage is through successful networking. Networking is the bedrock of building a strong web of relationships that can eventually introduce you to hiring managers and aid your efforts in securing an ideal job. It still seems to still be about who you know that can get you ahead in the corporate world.
Fostering and maintaining professional relationships can be beneficial for both the job seeker and the already employed. Not only does the job seeker learn more about potential openings through the connection and can meet prospective employers; the already employed (contact) can be viewed as a valuable asset to his or her company and field in general, by constructive recruiting. In addition, future opportunities can be presented from both parties, even after employment. Viewing the association and future interactions as mutually beneficial, for each member of the network can contribute valuable resources, one should not be intimidated in reaching out to foster such professional relationships.
The contacts that you connect with can mentor you, recommend you, recruit you, refer you, guide you and support you in your employment efforts. These contacts can also help you stay up to date on industry trends and needs for new talent as companies restructure, change, grow, merge or move in new directions that require more and/or different resources. By keeping in touch with these professionals, you can build trust, be able to provide assistance and stay fresh in the minds of contacts in your desired occupational field. Networking can really open the door to your industry of choice, as you may even be invited to participate in solving challenges with and for people in your field.
Where are all the Jobs?
You may be surprised to hear that up to eighty percent of job openings are never even advertised to the general public. Being aware and connected to this hidden job market can be the difference between landing a spot in your field of choice and remaining on the outside looking in. Thus, getting connected to the right contacts can help you bridge this gap. You can be on the inside track, now being aware of all of these previously hidden opportunities for employment.
Seven Steps to Successful Networking
Debra Feldman at Job Whiz outlined a series of seven steps to Network Purposefully and aid in fostering the right types of networking connections.
1. Begin choosing target employers
How many employers should one target? No fewer than 3-5 and keep it to a manageable number. You can always add to the list once you get some feedback and understand the employer market better. Emphasize quality of relationships over their quantity. Have a clear mission of what you want out of the position and how best you can contribute to the company of choice. Position yourself as a valuable, go-to expert so that you are not only memorable, but an asset to be ascertained.
2. Select companies where you can make a positive contribution
… and where your potential contribution can be appreciated because you have relevant background, skills, knowledge that should be obvious to the employer. If switching fields or changing roles, then be sure to show how your past achievements make you qualified for the position you want next.
3. Research the companies
This step is extremely important, because you want to know a great deal about the specific companies you chose, before contacting them. Identify the strengths, challenges, goals and mission statements of the company. Understand each specific corporate culture and discern if you believe that you are a good fit.
4. Prepare a presentation
After researching the few, specific companies of interest, determine how you can present yourself in the best possible light to a potential contact. Your cover letter, resume and talking points should show how you can solve company problems and/or demonstrate your ability to increase profits, reduce costs or improve process. Be sure to be extremely specific and able to cite past experiences in training and other jobs to support your claims.
5. Contact a company insider
Contact a company insider, by e-mail or phone to share your interests with them. Ask them to help you prepare to meet with the appropriate hiring manager and ask if they will recommend you. It is always an advantage to be referred by a mutual contact especially if they can endorse you.
6. Follow up
After you meet, be sure to send a thank you note (often via e-mail) and to follow up as suggested. Organizations change and needs for new talent is unpredictable. You want to stay on their radar by periodically reminding them of your continuing interest.
7. Keep active in your industry
Read, discuss, study, research, volunteer, etc. Attempt to get noticed and get recognized in your desired field. Ways to be visible: comment on blogs, write to the editor, go to meetings, make presentations, volunteer at events, etc. Repeat these steps until you land a job, and then maintain your connections because they are your career insurance.
This process of networking to get into your professional field of choice really works. It is reliable and produces results that you can get you into the position that you desire. There is also a bonus for all of your networking endeavors. In addition to the immediate goal of identifying your next position, if you network purposefully, you can create lifetime career insurance connections to stay on the inside track. Any future transition will become easier, because you have already developed and have kept in touch with targeted contacts.