With summer upon us, some of you job-seekers may think about taking a break from your search. Instead, you might want to ramp up your efforts and consider the new season an opportunity to relaunch any unfinished career plans.
One inevitable aspect of the search? Interacting and engaging with connections—extending your network to tap into the hidden job market. Sudy Bharadwaj is the co-founder and chief executive officer of JackalopeJobs.com, which allows you to log in with your favorite social network and learn which of your connections work in companies that interest you. He has seen many job-seekers benefit from carefully accessing their extended network.
Here are Bharadwaj’s nine suggestions for successfully networking your way to a job:
1. Connect with your network before you apply for positions. Even if you identify jobs via boards or postings, touch base with connections before applying directly. Many organizations prioritize applicants referred by employees. Some companies even give bonuses to employees who suggest candidates who are hired, so some networking contacts may have a financial incentive to pass along your information. Don’t be shy about reaching out and asking for a hand.
2. Rotate your thinking. Bharadwaj suggests: “Instead of finding jobs and focusing on connections in those companies, consider targeting your connections first and investigating who among them may be able to provide a link to a potential opportunity.”
To be successful, it’s important to know what you want and to be able to articulate how you can help an organization solve its problems. Once you know what you offer and how it relates to companies where you want to work, it will be much easier to leverage your network of contacts who can help you land jobs successfully.
3. Encourage your network by making it easy for them to help you. Bharadwaj reminds job-seekers: “Your connections are busy—aren’t we all? It’s up to the job-seeker to be specific when asking for a connection. Forward the job description and information about your background and skills. Tell the contact exactly how he or she can help you.”
4. Be concise and offer easy access to your information. It’s likely your contacts will access your information or email inquiry via their smart phones. Include all key points in the body of your email, such as links to online social resumes or your LinkedIn profile, instead of asking them to download and view your resume.
5. Go wide. Spread out your inquiries; try not to ask one person for too many things. Most people will want to help, but if it seems you are knocking on their door every week, the welcome will wear out quickly.