and that’s through your network. In 2012, ABC News reported that 80% of job offers were made through the candidate’s network. And that was 4 years ago! The percentage can only have increased since. Yale University’s Office of Career Strategy also notes that networking is the most effective way to find a job. The trouble is that most job seekers have no idea what the term “networking” really means or how to do it.
Build your Network Before you Find a Job
Social media is the tool you’re going to use to build your network. What you’re aiming for ultimately is a network of individuals within your profession (since they are most likely to be instrumental in helping you find a job), but never neglect the power of your personal network. Facebook is where you interact with your personal network, while LinkedIn is strictly professional and Twitter can be either, but if you want to find a job, I suggest you keep it professional (meaning don’t tweet about whatever’s trending in pop culture; do follow thought leaders in your field and other influencers, re-tweeting and liking their tweets in order to get their attention). Meanwhile, cull names of friends on Facebook, and join all them on LinkedIn; follow (and ask them to follow you) if they happen to be in your industry.
LinkedIn is where you’ll find it easiest to build a powerful network. When you first join LinkedIn, the site will ask if you want to have an invitation for your network sent to everyone in your email account. Think carefully before you agree – there may be emails from people with whom you no longer want to be in contact. You can also build your network one person at a time; the downside to that is you probably forgot half the people you know. Start by inviting people from your college, former employers as well as people you know personally. If you’ve attended an event where you exchanged business cards with someone, invite that person as well. Join groups – there are literally thousands on LinkedIn that pertain to your profession, industry, alumni association or former employers.
Interact Often and Regularly With Your Network
LinkedIn makes it easy to stay on top of what your network is up to, but don’t rely on their notifications alone. Actively engage by commenting on their updates or Pulse posts. Each time you comment – whether on an individual’s update or a group discussion – you are on the radar of everyone in that network. Become known for thoughtful, intelligent comments that demonstrate your thinking on the topic. Don’t default to just a “like” or “great post!”
How does this Help you Find a Job?
By being an active networker, your contacts will reach out to you when they learn of a job opening – often before it’s even posted. I got hired twice that way myself. Once, a contact of mine read an update from a CEO in his network who needed a global HR person for a contract position. My contact messaged the CEO and told him about me. A few years later, a recruiter in my HR Executive group posted on the group’s LinkedIn page that her client needed someone with my experience. I responded and was interviewing a few hours later. And when a friend’s son moved to another country, he was able to find a job because I put him in touch with one of my network contacts in that country.
When you Find a Job You Want to Apply for…
scour your network for contacts who work at the company that posted the job opening. It’s no secret to you who among your first degree connections works there – if any – but what you don’t know is who your second degree connections there are! Those are the people who can help you find a job.
So, get in touch with those second degree connections – either by referencing the person you know in common, or by asking that person to get in touch on your behalf. Tell them that you’ve applied for the position, but that you are hoping that he or she will get your resume in front of the hiring manager. This is critical, because more often than you would believe, the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software used by most companies rejects nearly 75% of all resumes – even from viable candidates! You need a pair of human eyes to read your resume, not software.
Interestingly, back in 2011, I TWICE received a rejection email from the ATS after submitting my resume online, but soon after got a call from the same company that had received my resume from a person in my network asking me to come in for an interview!