Monday, May 16, 2011

"Who you know" STILL matters! (Using your network to find your next job)

We have already seen that there are ways to leverage online networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, to help find your next job, but you can also use your existing network and use them to help leverage your opportunity of getting an interview or your foot in the door. It is not unusual for people to find their next job or get an interview by knowing someone, and sometimes it is all about “who you know.”

To find build your chances of having that “in,” members of your network should and can include:

Current and Former Co-Workers: Those you currently work with as well as those you've worked with in the past can be part of your network.
Professional Associations: Don't just join them. Become an active member, by serving on committees. You will make stronger connections in those associations by being an active member.
Friends and Family: Your brother-in-law's uncle's cousin may be a recruiter in your field. Keep your family and friends apprised of your career goals.
Former Professors and Instructors: Your former professors and instructors were most likely professionals in your field. Some probably still are.
Former Classmates: The alumni directory of your college and Facebook can provide you with contacts to add to your network.

When you review a job description that just screams your name and background or see a job description that reads like your resume, then you know you have found one of these “select” positions that you not only want to apply for, but you want an interview to prove you're the right fit.
But now what?  Well, rather than submitting your resume as normal, it is time to leverage your network.
·         Search your network and contacts for people who work at the company of interest.
·         Call a recruiter you trust and know someone has used, and ask them for help.
·         Ask the folks you know if they know anyone working with that company.
·         Search for people associated with the company on LinkedIn.
All you are looking for is an “in”.  Ideally, you would identify the hiring manager – in some cases this is easy and in some cases it is not. In the absence of finding this person, find people connected with the department in which you are interested in working.
Best case, someone in your network can introduce you directly. If not, perhaps you can at least identify someone who can help. When using your network, make sure that this new position you are applying for is directly related to your skills or past experiences, and it isn’t a stretch as it will be harder for your network to help if it is.
LinkedIn is excellent for this. There is a good chance that, if you have built up a reasonable network, someone in your network will be connected (hopefully directly) to someone in the network you are trying to access, and you can ask for an introduction.  Trust me, this works! 
Now craft your resume and cover letter and tailor them exactly to the position. Then, call the person you’ve identified or email them (a couple of Google searches can identify the structure of nearly any company’s email address) with a personal note asking them to forward your resume to the hiring manager.
Although everyone knows how beneficial networking can be, many are still nervous or uncomfortable with promoting themselves and increasing their network, but don’t be… remember it is still who you know, who you know, who you know!!! 
Until next time, happy networking and continued career success to you all! 

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