Debra Feldman, the JobWhiz™, is an executive talent agent and job search expert who arranges one-on-one meetings with hiring decision makers that expedite offers and provide lifetime career insurance. Her gift for Networking Purposefully™ banishes employment roadblocks, expands inside connections and leverages virtual relationships to tap into the hidden job market. Learn more about her groundbreaking techniques that eliminate gatekeepers now at JobWhiz.com to expedite your professional ascent!
To get on the inside track to unadvertised jobs, executives should focus their networking to develop relationships purposefully before they need a new job. One of the best strategies for career success is to network purposefully on a continuous basis in order to be known, liked and trusted by those who have direct hiring authority and can open doors to new career opportunities.
Networking, which is the exchange of information among contacts, produces the best job search results. About 80% of jobs never are advertised. The new hire hears about a position through connections and may not officially apply until the recruiting process is underway. Being one of the first candidates is usually an advantage.
Because networking accelerates access to early leads, it is a better (more effective) job searching method than answering classifieds, contacting recruiters, submitting applications, posting resumes, using online job boards, etc. In society, we trust friends and are wary of strangers. Those who come recommended have a competitive edge over unknown individuals with similar credentials.
By definition, networking is a supportive system (not a single, one-way transaction expecting help) of sharing information and services among individuals having a common interest. Not all networking is equally valuable. The key differentiation is “common interest.” For example, when seeking advice about vacation plans, you ask someone with relevant knowledge and personal experience, not just anyone. Confidence in an advice-giver varies with their authority and knowledge.
Similarly, job search networking is more productive when the networking contact either has hiring power or can make introductions to the appropriate authorities. If a candidate and the hiring decision maker both know and trust a mutual contact, then there is a connection.
Networking with purpose increases job search-related networking efficiency and effectiveness and produces better results faster. Job searchers who network purposefully select contacts who can hire them or help them access desirable leads through more connections. The most sophisticated networkers focus their networking activities to achieve a specific purpose. Their job search campaigns are swifter and smoother because they target their networking to get in front of decision makers and make a positive impression.
Many job seekers do not know where or how to start networking purposefully, especially if they don’t already have appropriate connections or if their contacts are not helpful. A job search may start with existing connections, and then use these contacts to source job leads. Or a campaign may start by first identifying the target employers and then networking purposefully into these organizations.
The right connections are individuals who have the authority to hire or people who can make introductions to these decision makers.
The most productive contacts are employees, former employees and retirees of target companies and individuals who are trusted and have internal connections and can get the hiring authority’s attention. Vendors, suppliers, partners, consultants, bankers, auditors, customers, investors, advertisers, marketing and PR agencies, authors, board members, neighbors of employees, employees at competitors are good networking contacts.
You must have appropriate contacts to be on hiring decsion makers’ radar or be recommended for suitable career opportunities that fit your needs and the employer’s requirements. It is not just what you know or who you know, but who knows you, remembers you, likes you and has the authority to hire you.
By keeping in touch, you build trust, know when to offer help before you are asked, will stay top of mind and maintain vital relationships. You may never have to look for a new job again because your advice will be requested by your network. You can also volunteer for attractive new career opportunities before a position is officially available. You are more likely to be in the right place at the right time if you are always on the radar of hiring authorities.
Networking is not just for job searching; it’s an invaluable and irreplaceable career strategy that ensures smoother transitions and access to new challenges along with the competitive advantage conferred by a personal recommendation.
In fact, your network of contacts is like “career insurance” because contacts will mentor you, recommend you, recruit you, refer you, guide you, support you and keep you up to date on industry trends and informed about opportunities among their connections. Your connections know you and are aware of your capabilities and career goals. Among the best timing to volunteer assistance is when companies restructure, change, grow, merge or move in new directions that are apt to require more or different staff resources that are not officially announced. Here is a pipeline into the hidden or unadvertised job market.
Here is how to start to network purposefully to develop inside contacts who will not only connect you with your next job, but who also will become a database for future referrals, recommendations and leads — even when you have not declared that you are actively ready and looking for a new position.
- Develop a short list of target employers. Discuss selections with people familiar with the industry, employer, and you. Factor this advice into your research findings. Refine the list by learning more about each company and comparing these facts to selection criteria. This is a critical step — success hinges on targeting the right employers that match your requirements and where you can also meet their needs. Research the companies to identify challenges that you can address. 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 is obvious to the employer. (If switching fields or changing roles, show how your past achievements make you qualified for the position you want next.) Ascertain the corporate culture and determine if you fit.
- Determine the individual with hiring authority (or one level above this person) for the role you want. Some of your contacts may be able to guide you in the right direction. Reference librarians can access databases with some of this information. Monitoring blogs, industry publications, annual reports, press releases and other announcements, checking professional association memberships, alumni listings, etc. are good sources.
- Research and learn about the company and industry. Focus on current trends, local and global challenges, key players, etc., so that you are familiar with the landscape and can talk knowledgeably about this sector.
- Prepare a customized presentation/resume. Document your unique ability to solve company challenges and demonstrate your contribution to increased profits, reduced costs or improved process.
- Contact a company insider. Offer to help them first before asking them to assist you or mentioning your interest in finding a new job.
- Send a thank you note and follow up as suggested. Organizations change and needs for new talent are unpredictable. Stay on the employer’s radar by periodically sharing ideas and arranging shared experiences.
- Be patient. Be persistent. Be active. Be visible and credible: read, discuss, study, research, comment on blogs, write to editors, go to meetings, make presentations, volunteer at events, etc.
- Continue to promote your strengths and maintain networking activities after you start a new job. Connections are long term “career insurance.”
Networking purposefully always works. It is reliable and produces results. Remember the bonus: In addition to identifying your next position in the hidden job market, if you network purposefully you also create lifetime career insurance. Connections keep you on the inside track. You will be among the first made aware of potential openings. Future transitions will be easier because of your existing connections.
Eighty percent of positions are unadvertised; this is the hidden job market. Having and maintaining the right network is a competitive advantage providing early access to unadvertised opportunities.