Finding a job in today’s economy can be tough, yet there are opportunities if you know where to look.
Your best bet for finding these opportunities is not through online job boards, the classifieds, or employment agencies, it’s by talking to the people around you. This is sometimes known as networking.
Your network of friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances is the most valuable job search resource you have. It’s about reaching out and letting the people know you are skilled, enthusiastic and ready to work.
You already know how to network
Most of us network most of the time – we just don’t realise it. The act of networking is something that becomes a habit and through social media, it’s easy to extend networking beyond friends and family. Networking isn’t confined to online – every day people network in the school playground, the college coffee shop, in the office, and at parties. The secret is to know how to use networking.
Networking is a two-way street
Networking with friends is about building relationships. The same is true when you network for jobs. When you come into contact with someone beyond your usual circle of friends and family, decide how best to engage them. Listen to them talk, see what interests them, find out what they do. Send a thank-you note. Ask for feedback. Then make a point of staying in touch – it can be as easy as sending them the occasional Tweet or email.
Building new networks
Your network is bigger than you think it is. It not only includes all of your family members, friends, neighbours, co-workers, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances but also your landlord, gym instructor, your friend’s mother, old teachers and lecturers, someone you’ve worked with – start writing down names, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the list grows. Remember, every person you identify is a potential connection to another network.
How to start
Decide what you want to achieve. Asking for something specific makes things much easier.
Once you’ve drawn up your list, start making contact with the people in your network. Let them know that you’re looking for a job. Be specific about what kind of work you’re looking for and ask them if they have any information or know anyone in a relevant field. Don’t assume that certain people won’t be able to help. You may be surprised by who they know.
The employers’ viewpoint
We all prefer to do business with people we know and like. Employers will like the fact that you’ve taken the time and trouble to research an idea and to talk to people about a subject or a job. Employers want people who are willing to help themselves. Getting a job is as much about getting it as it is about being given it. After all, when you become an employer, will you be more interested in someone who shows interest in your company and the job they’re applying for or in someone who has done little or nothing to find out about it?
Looking for a job can be stressful. By connecting with others, you’re sure to get some much needed encouragement and support. It feels good to help others so most people will gladly help you if they can.