Don’t Panic #7 – Be Prepared to Network

Job hunting requires a modest amount of preparation. First things first, you need to get organized. Acknowledge your feelings about the transition from one job to the next. Assess your skills, interests, and goals. Establish a search strategy and develop measurable goals that will help you focus and stay motivated. Then get out there and meet people. It’s a process, but it’s manageable.

Don’t Panic – A Working-Class Guide to Employment

#7 – Be Prepared to Network

Preparation begins with research. Look at employment trends, like where the “hot jobs” are. Seek out companies that match those trends and exist in your area. Most of that information is easily accessible online, in reports from major news sources. Target specific companies/industries that interest you. Don’t just look at big companies; consider the small, local business equivalents as well.

Job searching is competitive, but easy when you know how to go about it. The four main methods to effective searching are Networking, Recruiters, Advertisements, and Direct Company Contact. Networking is by far the best method to find a job, and you should focus more of your time on this strategy. The other methods have a lower success rate because everyone else uses the same channels. Be prepared to network and connect with people to find a good job.

Networking is by far the best method to find a job…

Employers like to hire someone they know personally, or through an employee reference, especially when a position is not publicly announced yet. Many jobs exist in what’s called a “hidden job market,” and many never get publicly announced. Don’t panic, you can access these jobs through networking. The strategy for you is to connect with people, ask questions, and gather information from them. Networking does not mean asking for a job. It’s a professional “give-and-take” process that leads to a mutually-beneficial relationship. The key is to grow your network until you expose available positions in the “hidden job market.” Keep them aware of your presence, and make an effort to network in person, rather than over email and phone. Eventually, you’ll meet someone who can put you right in the hands of a hiring manager.

Networking can be laid out in six steps: create a contact list, a target company/industry list, set up networking meetings, prepare, conduct, and follow-up those meetings. Aim for a couple dozen contacts initially. Look for people within your professional, social, and familial networks. Don’t filter anyone, and follow-up with everyone. Target the companies/industries you’re interested in, and use your networks to make a connection. Consider the people you already know, and consider any companies they work for (or with) that could use your talents. There may be people within those companies you want to meet. Do your research; check out annual reports, news articles, and websites. Use that information to develop a rapport with your business contacts.

Don’t filter anyone, and follow-up with everyone.

Setting up a networking meeting is easy. Half the time you won’t have to set them up – they exist already, and can be found through social media networks. Join them – it’s a great way to practice. You’ll first need to create a “Networking Profile” for your contacts (upon request) that will offer a concise outline of your qualifications. Title it as such, as not to be confused with a resume. Resumes are usually received as applications, and that can work against you when it comes to networking. A profile, although similar to a resume, doesn’t include details of your career history. It should clearly define your goals, as well as the companies you’re researching. It should include an overview (3-4 sentences), core competencies, accomplishments, target positions, and target companies. For more information about resumes, check out my earlier post, “Don’t Panic #6 – Sharpen Your Resume.”

With a prepared Networking Profile, you can show your contacts how they can help you. Start over the phone, confidently, and work towards an in-person meeting. Be persistent. Make your calls early in the day. Plan ahead with notes, and seek outcomes, like interviews, referrals, and answers to questions. If certain contacts are unavailable, try them back. Some have receptionists, and you must work with them to get through to your contact. Avoid leaving voicemails, and avoid leaving your number. Try to get the names of contacts with hiring authority, or the contacts in fields you’re interested in. Keep your target company list on hand, and refer to it during meetings. Contacts may know people at companies on your list. Draft a script so you know what to say. Ask questions, and create a rapport. Consider exploratory questions that create some dialogue. What do you want to accomplish?

Be persistent. Make your calls early in the day.

Ultimately, your referrals will either become a personal contact, a professional within your target company/industry, or a decision maker within your target company/industry. Keep your contacts updated on your progress, and send thank you letters shortly after meeting them. An effective networking strategy goes a long way in not only discovering and getting a job, but in developing relationships with professionals you’ll want to grow with.

Don’t Panic #5 – Take What’s Available

If you’re unemployed, and you’ve been out of work for more than three months, you should start considering temporary (short-term) job opportunities. Even if it’s not your ideal profession, you need to get back to work. The job market is competitive, and your best strategy is to simply take what’s available now. In time, you’ll find the right role for you.

Don’t Panic – A Working-Class Guide to Employment

#5 – Take What’s Available

It’s a hard known fact that people out of work begin to lose their technical skills over time. The remedy is to simply get back to work, and while that may imply taking a role less than perfect, your mantra should be “work while you look.” Hiring managers, recruiters, and staffing consultants agree that a professional background without breaks looks more appealing than one with; unless of course you can justify it (i.e. I went traveling for a couple months). No matter what your desired career path is, you can find the right job while working elsewhere temporarily.

Work while you look.

Temporary employment opportunities are extremely popular right now. Companies are interested in “trying before you buy” additional staff, and the unemployed should embrace this. Don’t panic – there’s no guilt when after one month of employment, you decide to take a better offer elsewhere. Companies anticipate that, and if you’re worth holding onto, they’ll extend an offer, and you can leverage that to negotiate a better salary. Until then, take what’s available, earn a steady income, and get a feel for the industries you’re interested in.

Temporary employment opportunities are extremely popular right now.

People grow comfortable with jobs that pay well. That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit for you. Getting that perfect job requires a personal strategy that involves assessing yourself, networking with people involved in what you’re looking for, and communicating your interest with tactful persistence. While you may have to spend months to accomplish this, you’re better off working while you move forward. It shows initiative, motivation, and a genuine interest that employers like to see. Don’t give up on your ideal job, but don’t auto-pass on what’s available either.