One of the biggest challenges in getting a new job is getting noticed in the first place. If you are only applying for jobs that you find online, it may take you even longer to get an interview. Because there are dozens if not hundreds of applicants for every post online, you have a lot of competition.
However, if you have a large network, finding a new job can be much easier. When you know someone on the inside, they can let you know about jobs before they open or make sure your resume gets to the right person. With the right relationships, you can find your dream job much sooner.
Let's take a look at some tips you should use to improve your working relationships and get a new job.
1. Consider your entire network
When you think of your professional network, you probably think primarily of former bosses, managers, or co-workers. Although this is a good starting point, they aren't the only people you have to think about. Anyone you know – whether personally or professionally – can be someone you might want to connect with.
Do you think of family members or friends of friends as people who can help you in your job search? Otherwise, don't neglect them.
Besides your extended network, you never know who they might introduce you to. With these additional connections, you can get to know extremely important people in the companies you would like to work for.
Think of people who have worked before, friends or family members, and peers from high school or college.
Plus, even connections you have on social media or mutual friends can be a great way to start finding a new job. Don't rule out a connection just because it doesn't stem from a perfectly professional relationship.
2. Know what you are looking for
Once you have an idea of the types of people you can connect with, you need to know what you're looking for. When you finally reach out to your network members, you don't want to ask for just any job. You need to know exactly what you are qualified for, why you are a good candidate, and how that person can help you achieve your goals.
Take a moment to think about the best outcome for your relationships. Whether you're looking for an internship or just an introduction to a hiring manager, knowing your expectations ahead of time can save you from uncomfortable conversations. Being clear about what you are looking for up front can also show that you are seriously thinking about your career change.
You may have different needs depending on who you are talking to. If you are considering connecting with the CEO of a company, you may find it easier to request an interview.
However, if your connection is lower on the totem pole, you will probably need to request something a little smaller, such as an intro. Make sure your requests are reasonable based on the individual in your network.
3. Contact your references
If you are going to use your network to get a new job, you need to start where it makes the most sense. Before contacting someone you know only moderately, connect with people who already know you well.
Your professional references are a great place to start.
Because your references have already agreed to speak to you if ever you need them, they are already well acquainted with your skills. They believe you are capable and want to help you be successful. This means they will be more motivated to help you find your dream job if they can. Even if they can't directly help you find a new job, they might be able to introduce you to other people who can.
Contact your references to let them know you are looking for a new job. Let them know exactly what type of job you are looking for, what industry you would like to be in, and the job location you need.
You'll also want to make sure they're always ready to serve you as references. So let them know that they might be contacted by a hiring manager.
4. Focus on the relationship behind the connection
When looking to get a new job through your network, you usually can't just call someone up and ask them to hire you. If you ask for too much up front, the person you contact may not be willing to help.
Instead of acting like they owe you help, focus on build a strong relationship with them.
For the most part, people like to help others. However, it can be a major problem if you expect something to be handed to you. If you approach your network with a real question and respectfully ask for help or advice, they are more likely to help.
You will want to consider the relationship you have with the individual before you reach out. While you can connect with people you don't know well, you may need to spend a bit more time establishing a connection before seeking professional assistance from them.
If you're going to contact someone you've only met once or twice, a simple question or request for advice is the way to go.
On the other hand, someone you have known personally for many years may be willing to pass on the email address or phone number of a hiring manager at their company.
5. Make your request specific
At this point, you should already know what you're looking for outside of your connection. As we mentioned before, you don't want to just apply for a job or get help getting a new job. After all, your network is probably quite busy. They don't have time to make the connections you need.
Instead of just letting your network know that you are looking for a new job, you want to ask them for specific advice.
Whether it's helping out applying for a job or presenting to an important person in their office, you want to show that you've done your homework and are ready to do the job.
When contacting someone in your network for the first time, be clear about what you are looking for. While you don't have to jump right into the conversation to let them know you're looking for help, don't expect them to figure it out on their own, either.
Be clear and direct, but still genuine and considerate, every time you connect with a network member.
6. Continue the connection
Don't make a habit of reaching out and never following up.
If the individual doesn't get back to you immediately, it may just be because you caught them at a bad time or they didn't see your message. While you might want to write them off immediately and assume they're unwilling to help you, you don't want to end the conversation there.
Give them time, then contact them again. Remember that the networking process can take a while.
If you expect your network to help you find a job immediately, you will probably be disappointed. Instead, encourage the relationship and do what you can to be accommodating. After all, you are asking them to take time out of their schedule to help you find a new job.
Whether or not that person can help you, you will want to maintain the relationship. Don't go away immediately if they say they don't know what they can do for you. Instead, thank them for their time and let them know you're available if they need your help. Also, kindly ask them if they would be willing to think about you in the future if they hear about anything.
Using your network can be one of the best ways to get a new job. However, you can't expect your network to do all the work for you. While they can help you get your foot in the door, they probably aren't going to turn around and just give you a job.
Consider these tips if you plan to contact your network for a new position. Never forget that you ask for their help, so be kind and accommodating – and don't act the way they should.
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