How to Make Job Search Connections in Surprising Places
Tips for Making Connections Who Can Help You Get Hired
Sometimes, you can find a connection to help with the next step of your career when and where you least expect to. It can happen when you're actively job seeking and when you’re not thinking about changing jobs. That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep your job search radar on, even if you’re not actively seeking a new position.
A friend or acquaintance might hear about a job that would be perfect for you. Even better, the position might not have been advertised yet. You could get a head start on all the other candidates without having to do much to prepare other than getting your resume ready to share.
Using Connections to Help Get Hired
Getting hired through a connection is one of the best ways to get a new job. Employers love referrals because the applicant will have insight into the company before they apply, and many companies have referral programs to encourage employees to recommend candidates.
There are two types of connections you can use when you’re job hunting. Professional connections include people you’ve worked with, such as clients, vendors, colleagues, and peers in your industry. Personal connections include family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and random people you end up chatting with about your career.
There are other connections that cross categories, like alumni from your university, and all the contacts you have in your life can help you get hired. Online job searching and networking do work, but remember that it’s people who hire people.
Making Personal Connections
Your personal connections can provide a goldmine of job opportunities. There are people who have been hired because of someone they sat next to on an airplane or a ski lift, or because the other mom they were chatting with at school pick-up knew of a perfect position that had just opened up. You never know who might be able to help unless you ask.
Some of the places where you can hear of a job opening might surprise you. Just think of all the places you go where you might run into someone you know:
- Co-working Spaces
- Play Dates
- Dog Parks
- Sports Events
- Special Events
- Bars and Clubs
- Classes and Seminars
- School Functions
Watch your social media feeds, too. Your friends may post job openings at their employer or other positions they come across. Do remember to be careful about inquiring, and do it via private message rather than replying to the post. It’s never a good idea to advertise the fact that you’re job searching unless you’re out of work and want the world to be aware.
The Best Way to Connect in Person
What’s the best way to connect? It can be uncomfortable to meet with your contacts, at first, if you’re not an outgoing person. These networking tips for introverts will help you get started. The more you do it, the easier it will become. After the first few times, it may even seem easy.
Be chatty. Say “hi” to everyone you know, and to some people you don’t know. A simple hello, a smile, and asking how the person is doing can start a conversation.
Make it about them. Don’t make the conversation about you and the new job you’d love to get. Instead, talk about what you have in common — your kids, your dog, the gym equipment you’re using, the game you’re watching, or the event you’re attending. Ask the other person what job they have, if you don’t know. If you do, ask them how work is going. That’s always a good way to segue into a career discussion.
Be prepared. At some point, the conversation should turn to you, and that’s when it’s appropriate to talk about work and what you’re interested in doing next in your career. Have an elevator pitch, a quick summary of your background, ready to share.
Have your contact information ready. Have your contact information ready to share on your phone, just in case the person has a job lead for you. A business card with your email address, phone number, and LinkedIn profile URL is another way to easily share the details. Making it easy for people to get in touch with you will up your chances of getting job leads.
Keep in Touch With Your Professional Connections
In addition to building your personal network, don’t lose sight of your professional connections. It’s almost too easy to stay connected on LinkedIn, social media messaging, and email. They work, of course, but if you’re in close proximity to your professional contacts a chat over a cup of coffee works better.
You’ll be able to cement and build your relationship, discuss other contacts who might be able to help you, and have a real conversation. Not networking in person is one of the biggest professional networking mistakes you can make.
As with your personal connections, giving to get works. Always offer your advice and assistance. People are much more willing to help someone who has helped them. They’ll also be more likely to remember you if a promising job comes across their desk.
Take the time, as well, to attend career networking events. As with one-on-one networking, the more events you go to, the more chances you’ll have to boost your career.