When you are looking for a job, leave no stone unturned. Often jobs are never advertised because they are filled long before the newspaper ever hits the stands. Often they are the higher paying jobs available, too. How do you find out about those if they aren’t made available to the general public? By networking.
Networking is the skill of developing and maintaining a group of contacts who can help you when you decide to seek employment. This group of contacts can include friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, former bosses and teachers, even industry experts. By maintaining relationships with these people, you may get a nudge when something becomes available long before others have the chance to find out about it.
In order for networking to work, your contacts have to see you as a good candidate. They don’t want to recommend someone to a colleague or a boss if they don’t believe in you as a good fit for the position. So in a way, you have to market yourself to this group of contacts and here’s how to do it.
Know what you want to do, what industries or job types interest you, and what you absolutely will not do. Know your strengths and weaknesses. You can take plenty of self-assessment tests online to help you with this if you really don’t know. You can’t convince anyone of your appropriateness for a position if you don’t know yourself that you can or want to do that type of work.
Organize Your Contacts
You can do this on your computer. If you are looking at different fields or industries, it may help to group contacts by that classification. Keep names, addresses, phone numbers and emails for each contact along with any notes about them, their company or how they might be helpful to you. If a computer is not available, an index card or business card system can do the same job with the pertinent notes written on the back of the cards.
Communicate and Follow Up
Your network cannot help you without communication. It is imperative that you let contacts know what you are looking for and ask for their assistance. Most people are more than happy to help others. If they feel they can help you, be sure to follow up in an agreed upon amount of time. If they have nothing for you right now, try again at a later date, but not so soon as to become a pest.