How to Use Networking to Find a Job
Tips and Advice for Networking When You're Job Hunting
Even though job search networking is one of the most successful ways to find a new job, it can sound intimidating and sometimes seems a little bit scary. It doesn't have to be. My father ended up in a conversation on an airplane with someone who was looking for an aeronautical engineering job. My dad happened to be in the same field and ended up assisting the person in getting a new job.
Sometimes, that's all it takes. I've been offered jobs on more than one occasion simply because a friend or acquaintance knew my background and skills.
Informal Job Search Networking
Try job search networking; it does work. At least 60% - some report even higher statistics - of all jobs are found by networking. Develop contacts - friends, family, neighbors, college alumni, people in associations - anyone who might help generate information and job leads. Plan on attending as many networking events as you have time for.
You can take a direct approach and ask for job leads or try a less formal approach and ask for information and advice. Contact everyone you know. You may be surprised by the people they know. Make yourself pick up the phone and call. It helps to assign yourself a quota of calls to be made each day. The more phone calls you make, the easier it will become.
Email is a perfectly acceptable way to network as well. Keep your message brief and to the point and be sure to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
If you are attending a holiday gathering or any other type of party, it is appropriate to mention in casual conversation that you are seeking employment. Accept all the invitations you receive - you never know where or when you might meet someone who can provide job search assistance! My stepson was not only offered a co-op position by one of my friends that he met at a birthday party at our house, but he was also remembered a year later when the company was hiring.
Formal Job Search Networking
Formal networking works too - try going to a business social or an association meeting or event. You'll find that many of the participants have the same goals you do and will be glad to exchange business cards. If you're shy, volunteer to work at the registration table where you can greet people as they come in or bring a friend to walk around the room with you - there's security in numbers. Practice smart ways to start a conversation, and you'll soon be a networking pro.
As well as networking the old fashioned way, use the internet to network. Visit discussion boards like the Indeed.com Job Forums to network with career professionals and other job seekers. Visit one of the sites, like LinkedIn, which focus on online job search and career networking.
If you belong to a professional association, visit its website for career assistance. Are you a college alumnus? Contact the Career Services office at your alma mater - many universities have online career networks where you can find alumni who will be thrilled to help you with your job search.
Whichever method you use, reaching out to contacts at your dream companies could bring surprising results.
Not sure what to say? Review our sample job search networking letters to get an idea of how to approach networking contacts:
Job Search Networking Tips
- Conduct informational interviews with your contacts and ask for referrals for additional meetings.
- Follow through with referrals, and always thank contacts in writing (email is fine).
- Create an inventory of your accomplishments, including your educational background and work history, to keep at hand should a chance encounter become a contact.
- Make a list of the assets you will bring as a prospective employee.
- Bring business cards and a pen.
- Write some notes so you'll remember the details on who you have just met on the business cards you collect, or in a notebook.
- When networking online, keep track of who you've emailed and where you have posted so you can follow up.
Finally, if you haven't memorized all your strengths and strong points, write them down - you'll need to articulate these in your resumes and cover letters as well as emphasize them during interviews.
Sample Job Search Networking Letter
Review a sample job search networking letter for send to set up an informational interview or to obtain job search assistance by networking from a contact in your career field of interest.
Job Search Networking Letter Example (Text Version)
City, State Zip Code
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr. Contact,
I was referred to you by Diane Smithers from XYZ company in New York. She recommended you as an excellent source of information on the communications industry.
My goal is to secure an entry-level position in communications. I would appreciate hearing your advice on career opportunities in the communications industry, on conducting an effective job search, and on how best to uncover job leads.
Thanks so much, in advance, for any insight and advice you would be willing to share. I look forward to contacting you early next week to set up a telephone informational interview. Thank you for your consideration.
Sample Job Search Networking Letter for a Student
Below is a sample networking letter for a student to send to set up an informational interview or to obtain career assistance from a college or university contact.
Student Job Search Networking Letter Example (Text Version)
City, State Zip Code
City, State Zip Code
Dear Ms. Contact,
I am a junior at Sample College and found your name and contact information on our Alumni Career Network. I am hoping that you will be able to help me learn more about options in law. I have been encouraged to consider the field by family and professors, alike, and would like to determine if it would be a good match for me.
I am interested in hearing about how and why you entered the field, the pros and cons of working in law, classes and co-curricular activities I should consider if I were to decide to move in this direction, and your advice on how I might test the waters, experientially, over the next few summers.
I appreciate your willingness to advise me and look forward to contacting you to set up an informational interview.
YourFirstName YourLastName ‘XX (Class Year)