You may hear people talking about the “˜unadvertised’ job market, and how important it is to tap into it. It is quite misleading because it implies that there is some sort of secret market that you don’t know about, where there are jobs aplenty, but you can’t get at them.
Of course it is not like that at all. All that people mean is that you can’t sit back and wait for jobs to appear in advertisements; you have to go out there and make it happen for you.
The basic idea is that you are trying to find jobs before they are advertised. In other words you need to have employers already bearing you in mind so that when a job does come free they think of you, rather than advertising it.
The best way to do this is to meet and talk to as many people as possible who may be able to help you with your job search. This doesn’t just mean networking with people who are directly responsible for recruiting staff, like bosses or managers. It also means talking to people who may have no bearing on the recruitment process, but who can tell you about what is happening in their company, or know someone who can.
In order to network effectively you first need to know what sorts of job you want. You need this so that you can explain why you are positive and enthusiastic about the career you are seeking. If you don’t care what job you get then networking will not work for you.
Once you know what jobs you are going for, make a list of everyone you know who might be able to give you information about the companies and opportunities that exist. These could be friends, family, teachers, anybody.
It really is a small world, and it’s surprising who and what people know when you give them opportunity to share advice, ideas and introductions.
If you really can’t find anyone who can help in the right ways, then also find and contact new people you don’t yet know from the companies that you might be able to work for. This is trickier, but can work.
You need to plan the conversations you have. You can’t just immediately ask if they can help you find a job because the chances are they can’t, and that may otherwise be the end of the conversation. Instead, outline the work you are hoping to do and say that you would be grateful if they could spare a few minutes to share some advice. People usually like to be asked for advice and are often happy to help where they can.
When you meet you need to tell them why you are interested in the career you have chosen. Impress them with your enthusiasm and with your ability to do the job well. Tell them you are trying to find out as much as you can about the career, or about the companies who do the work you are interested in. Ask them if they have any information that might be useful to you in your research. Ask them if they know other people you can meet, can they give you an introduction?
Aim to get at least two new names from every networking meeting you set up. In this way you will expand your contact list and become better known in the field you are exploring. Eventually you find that you are meeting people who do have responsibility for recruitment, who may be able to offer you a job one day. Be patient, and be tenacious. Networking is not always easy but it is where the vast majority of jobs come from. So stick at it. It may not feel easy at first, but will work.
Harry Freedman, Founder & Chief Executive of Career Energy
Harry’s career journey
Dr Harry Freedman is Founder and Chief Executive of Career Energy. His varied career includes CEO roles in several SMEs and the voluntary sector. He has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in several disciplines including Psychology. He has made many career changes, which is how he knows that nobody needs work in a job to which they are not suited. He broadcasts regularly on TV and Radio, and writes for magazines and newspapers.