Have you ever known what you should do. That it is the right thing to do. But..you just didn’t do it.
There are many things that stop us from doing what we ought to do. Could it be…
When it comes to job search networking, it’s no different. I’ve experienced all these things and still do.
How get started in job search networking when…
- It seems too hard
- I’ve gotten results with other methods
- No one will want to talk to me
- What would we even talk about?
- It doesn’t feel right to hit people up for jobs.
- I don’t even know that person.
- Can’t they just see my resume and know I’m the right candidate?
- I should be walking the dog right now.
- The mailman just came by, maybe there’s an offer letter in there.
- The internet has so many job postings.
It becomes necessary to do job search networking when you are experiencing…
- Lots of applications and very few if any interviews
- You are spending hundreds of hours online and feel disconnected
- A handful of interviews for jobs that just aren’t a fit but I “can do” them even though I’m not excited about them.
- Stale status in your work and unsure how to break free.
- Seeing others get promoted when you’re the one working your ass off.
- You feel like there’s something wrong with you, your resume, and your skills because you are not getting any responses.
It starts with your friends
Meeting people isn’t as hard as you think. You already have friends. You have family. Don’t you already have people you know well? If you built those relationships, can’t you do the same now?
The first step in recovery is admission. I admit, I need to network. I admit that I have an online application addiction. I admit my fear of meeting new people. I admit I’ve been taking the easy way.
Whatever you admit. Do it first. Use the comments below to provide your admission statement. What do you need to admit?
The facts about finding work
- A job posting can only hire a single individual.
- Each posting interviews a handful of candidates.
- Postings can receive 100+ applicants with widely varying levels of skill.
- Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) is not a human being.
- The ATS is really good practice if you are seeking jobs in data entry.
- The process from a company perspective to hire an individual isn’t consistent by job posting, company or even the recruiter.
- Recruiters have a really hard job.
- Hiring teams will likely hire those they know, like and trust.
Do you believe these things?
Job Search Networking Starts with You.
Before you start networking, you need to believe in yourself, your skills, and your strengths. Often we look at job descriptions and try to fit that expectation. That’s the quickest way to enter an identity crisis.
Regardless of the roles you are seeking and the level of match to your strengths, you first need to define you.
- As a solution to a real problem to a future hiring team. Think of all the times when you were working and had a great impact and solved an organizational problem. What was it?
- Something you enjoy and want to do again. I’ve taking survival jobs before. They are not always inspiring or fulfilling – it is a “survival job” for a reason. Don’t catalog everything you have ever done. Focus in on a noble ambition.
- Build a catalog of several anecdotal examples of these skills, strengths, and positive outcomes.
- Create an identity statement for your brand. Based on the above. I have a free course to help you with that here.
Listing your strongest connections
Once you have defined YOU, you need to list your strongest connections. Base this on your level of trust. I like to use the metaphor of babysitter. Who would you leave your kids with if you were working or going out? If you don’t have kids, just pretend you did as a guardian. The list might include…
- Service Providers
This is not an exhaustive list. I would actually take the time to prioritize this list based on level of trust. You can also just take a look through your mobile phone contacts. Often your last 10 phone calls and your last 10 text messages will yield some ideas.
Asking for time and help from your connections
If a good friend of mine was to ask me for help, would I say yes?
Of course I would. You probably would to. It’s your friend!
Often in this situation where you are looking for work or a better professional situation, it’s hard to know which friends you can rely on and how you can rely on them.
And, it’s hard for those friends to know how to help you if they see you need it for your job search. So how do we fix this?
Reach out with a simple script
I need your help, do you have time for me?
Great! I would love to meet at your work to get your perspective on some things. Can I explain?
I’m in the middle of a job search and want to get some clarity around my strengths and how I might be able to maximize them in the marketplace. You are positioned to give me honest feedback because you know me well. Would that be okay with you?
I appreciate you for being a great friend. I want you to know that I don’t expect you to have a job for me and I promise I won’t ask you for one. I value our friendship and really just want your feedback, advice and perhaps connection to others in your network. Does that sound fair?
Perfect! I have time on XXX in the morning, or on XXX in the afternoon. Which of those times works best for you?
The small things that make a huge difference
You want to present your brand rather than your circumstance. By that I mean..
Is your brand “job seeker”?
Is that the problem you solve for the companies you’ve worked for? Remember, if you ask everyone for a job or keep saying I need a new job, or I really want a better job. Then you are a “job seeker”. Although all those statements could be real, it’s important to not allow them to become your identity. It’s just a situation or circumstance, it’s not who you are.
Because you are starting with people you know, don’t skip the step where you tell them you aren’t expecting they have a job and you won’t ask them for one. Even those who know you well will really appreciate not having to take on the additional burden of your circumstance and need for employment (even if they tell you otherwise).
Get in the habit of diffusing and acknowledging the elephant in the room: your need for a job. By getting it out in the open, addressing it, and diminishing its importance to your interest in speaking with someone, you will position yourself strategically.
It will also allow you to present your real branding, strengths, market value, and interests rather than your circumstances. Stick to your guns on this one. Even if someone asks you for your resume or encourages you to go to their company website to identify some jobs, these are tactical moves.
Can’t you already apply online? Aren’t you already aware of posted positions? Then why would someone encourage you to do that activity?
For one simple reason: your friend is trying to help you. This is a good sign. Just because they offer you a tactical suggestion with a low return on investment doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
Instead, pivot the conversation back to your intent: to get their perspective. To understand their job. To get a better feel for their company. To clearly see the contribution that your friend makes on a daily basis. And to encourage them, give them affirmation for the quality of their work, and to put them in the center of the conversation.
Why am I Job Search Networking with these people?
- You’re a friend. Act like one.
- The law of reciprocity: Givers will gain.
- Your friend may need encouragement more than you know.
Your specific objectives are… [credit: Cleon Cox]
- meet people
- learn something
- have fun.
Your active purposes..
- To contribute to others
- To develop understanding
- To ask for connection, or even better, an introduction to others in your areas of interest
Asking is the part most people miss at the end of the networking process. You aren’t looking for jobs, but for connection to companies and people at them in a specific domain relevant to your brand).
If you really want to know more about how to network well, just download the networking checklist. It will help every networking conversation in your job search.
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