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Students > Job Search > Networking

Networking

One of the most important phases of the job search is networking. Networking is telling the people you know that you are looking for a job and asking them if they have any information, or know of anyone who has information concerning a job, occupation or organization. This technique really works and the rewards are worth your effort. People are usually very willing to help others with their job search.

Why should you network?

The more people you know the more you are connected to others who can assist you with your job search. Networking is the single most effective means of identifying available positions. People in your network can help you discover 70-80% of good jobs that are never advertised. It is worth the time and effort to use networking as an important technique in your job search. But remember it is not the only way of finding a job. It should be used along with other job search strategies and you should take advantage of the assistance provided to you by the career services staff.

Who is your network?

Who is your network?

Let people know that you are looking for work. Let them know that you are serious about your job search and will follow through with recommendations.

The first step is to determine whom to ask. At first, you may only be able to think of a few people, but in reality you know many more people who can help you. Some of the people to tell that you are looking for work are:

  • Parents
  • Friends
  • Teachers
  • Neighbors
  • Relatives
  • Clergy
  • Merchants
  • Co-Workers
  • Former Co-Workers
  • School Leaders
  • Scouting, Youth /leaders
  • Coaches
  • Team Members
  • Doctors, Dentists
  • Bankers
  • Friends' friends
  • Professional Acquaintances (bankers, lawyers, etc.)

How do you ask these people for help?

When you ask someone for help you need to provide four types of information:

A. Tell the person that you are looking for work and why:

Examples:
"I have a job, but I would really rather work in an office environment."
"My company had a big cut-back and I was recently laid off."

B. To conduct an informational interview.. State why that person is in a position to give you leads.

Examples:
"You know so many people, you probably hear about a lot of things." (to a socially active friend)

"You know me pretty well, and I'd like to consider a job in the same industry as your organization. Is there someone in your company I could talk with about my field and how it relates to this industry?" (to a friend who works in a place where you would like to work)

C. Briefly describe your skills.

Examples:
"I have a great deal of experience in sales and marketing."
"I have a degree in Early Childhood and would like an assistant teacher position."

D. Tell the person what kind of help you need from him/her.

Examples:
"Have you heard of any openings in my field?"
"Do you know of anyone in my field I could talk to about possible jobs?"
"Can I use your name as a reference?"
"Can I use your name when I call your company to arrange a talk with the director of marketing?"

Where do you network?

There are many places that are good arenas for networking ? a few ideas:

  • Career seminars
  • Career fairs
  • Church gatherings
  • Clubs
  • Family gatherings
  • Professional association meetings
  • Parties
  • School functions
  • Conferences
  • Look in newspapers for calendar of events

What action do you take when networking provides you with a good contact?

Once you have a name of a contact call him/her and ask for an appointment. Be honest and state that you are looking for work in accounting (or whatever) and would like to talk with him/her about the trends and possible openings in your field. Be sure to mention the name of the person who referred you. Often employers will tell you that they don't have an immediate opening and suggest you call personnel. Explain that while a position may not be currently available, the opportunity to talk with him/her is just as valuable, and that you would need only a half-hour meeting. Remember that the goals of this meeting are to (1) get information about the field and job openings (anywhere, not just in the employer's company) and (2) let the employer meet you and connect a face to the resume. When you meet with your contact, let him/her know exactly what you are looking for and get suggestions for your job search. Some questions you might want to ask are:

  • Do you think my resume is suitable for this type of position?
  • Can you suggest directories and other printed resources about employers in this field?
  • Can you suggest sources where I might obtain job listings or announcements for this type of work?
  • Can you refer me to others in the field who might be available to provide me with additional assistance? When I call, may I use your name?
  • What qualifications do you seek in a new hire?
  • Which of my skills are strong compared to other job hunters in this field?

Never end a meeting without asking the contact to refer you to someone else. Don't ask the contact for a job. It tends to make the employer uncomfortable and defensive. You are asking them for information. If they have an opening or know of one, they will tell you. This is how you hear about those 70-80% of good jobs that are never advertised. Leave your resume with the contact when you leave. Always follow up with a thank you note. It is important to once again have the contact think about you and your skills. Also, it is a good idea to keep a record of your contacts- date, name of contact, name of company/association, what was discussed at the meeting, and to whom they referred you. It gets difficult to keep straight whom you saw and what you discussed at the meeting, and to whom they referred you.

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