Over the years there has been much talk about the “hidden job market.” This refers to the jobs that are never advertised. According to the 2008 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report from ExecuNet, 70% of executives found their jobs through networking. And a recent article in The Wall Street Journal says that networking is the most effective strategy for landing a new position.
Even though most executives know that networking is key, some may find it hard to get started because they are reluctant to reconnect with former colleagues that they haven’t been in touch with for some time. It can be difficult to pick up the phone and call someone that you haven’t talked to in years and ask for help with a job search.
One way to handle this type of situation is to start by connecting with your former colleague on LinkedIn and/or one of the other popular social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Then you can offer the person something of value. It could be a link to an article in your shared field or a tip about some new trend in the field. It’s far easier to start off by offering something rather than asking for something.
Once you connect, more often than not the other person will ask what you are doing now. That opens the door for you to talk about your current situation and to solicit that person’s help with your job search. It will be most beneficial though to carefully consider what kind help you think this person will be able to give you. That way you can be prepared with your request when the person says, “Let me know what I can do to help.”
It’s also critical to expand your network beyond the people that you already know. Perhaps no one in your immediate network knows of any job opportunities, but it is very possible that people in your network know of other people who have access to information about job openings.
One great online tool for trying to find people who are connected to job vacancies that you may be interested in is the Jobs tab on LinkedIn. You can search for positions by job title and geographic location, and LinkedIn will automatically show you who in your network is connected to the company that has the opening. If the person is a second or third level contact, LinkedIn will show you who in your first level contacts is connected to the person who works for or has worked for that particular company with the opening.
In addition, you can search LinkedIn for companies that you are interested in and find out who in your network works for or has worked for those companies. This is a great way to identify who you need to touch base with to try to get a foot in the door with companies that you want to be employed by.
But keep in mind that networking is a two-way street. You don’t want to simply start connecting with people only to get something from them. This can be an immediate turnoff. It’s important to share as much as possible so that you don’t give the impression that you are simply using people for your own ends.
Remember that networking is still the key to job search success, whether online or offline. More than likely, your next job is hidden in your network somewhere.
*Feel free to follow me on Twitter @cherylepalmer and connect with me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylpalmer.
Register for a free social media job search webinar at www.calltocareer.com