Why You Need to Network (or… The Employer’s Candidate Hunt)
When you think about job hunting, try to think of it from the employer’s point of view.
The easiest place to find suitable candidates is by asking people they know – people in the industry and their own employees. Plus, if they find people this way, it’s likely to cost them a lot less than hiring a recruitment company or multiple postings on a job board.
As a job hunter, you need to get yourself into the space where they’re looking.
The most efficient way you can do that? By networking in person.
That can sound like a daunting task but you’re probably a lot closer to useful connections than you realise – get yourself a copy of our Network Mapping template (download link is at the bottom of the page) and start plotting out your network.
The aim is to utilise the network you already have to get yourself in-person meetings with people in the industry.
Using Your Existing Network
The easiest way to start with networking is to begin with what you know.
Fill out the network mapping template and get to grips with the network you already have. Be sure to include of:
- Former colleagues
- Employment connections – customers, suppliers etc
- Social connections – clubs, sports and groups you’re a member of
- University or school alumni
Obviously you’re looking for people with industry knowledge. But you should also consider people who can give you advice on:
- Job hunting in your local area (people who have been a successful job hunter recently – not necessarily even in your target industry)
- How to write a CV (recruiters or HR professionals)
- How to present yourself at interviews (managers who conduct interviews)
A great place to start, is with the people who are your references on your CV (or the people you would consider asking to do this).
These are people who, should know you, know your strengths and be able to help you identify the skills you are uniquely placed to offer employers.
Expanding Your Network
You can also consider larger networking opportunities to meet several people at once. Check for local networking events, industry-specific events locally and careers fairs.
The goals are likely to be a bit more general for these events but you should still consider what you’re hoping to achieve – perhaps to meet 5 new people who’d be appropriate to follow up with individually?
How to Make the Most of Networking Meetings
Before you start those in-person networking meetings, make sure you’ve perfected your personal pitch, you’re likely to need a version of it for every new person you meet during this time.
When you do find a contact who has links to the industry, try to meet with them face-to-face. Even a quick chat over a coffee can give you a huge amount of information and improve the chances that someone will remember you if they hear of any opportunities.
It would take several back and forth emails to cover what can be talked over in a half hour conversation – so although you might feel that an in-person meeting is encroaching on their time, it’s probably more efficient in the long run.
As you set up meetings, be clear about what you want to achieve from each one – it’ll likely be different every time, depending on who you’re meeting. Are you looking for:
- Information gathering?
- A new contact and their information?
- Feedback on a CV?
- Advice on how to progress?
- An endorsement or introduction?
Remember that people are usually genuinely keen to help others out. But they can’t do that if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
Once you have your goal for the meeting, plan out questions you want to cover.
There’s no harm in writing these down or making a note in your phone if you’re worried you’ll forget.
Of course, once you get talking you might end up achieving a whole lot more than you set out to, but you should always come out with your original goal met.
You should always be aiming to come out of a networking meeting with new actionable points – specific things you can do to improve your chances of landing a job.
That could be something as simple as following up a new contact, making suggested changes to your CV or attending an event you’ve just learned about.
Aim to be a step closer to your new dream job after each networking meeting.
And do lots of these – as many as you can.
Mapping your network – Template
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You might also be interested in:
Speculative Job Hunting
Assessing Your Skills
Using Social Media To Find A Job
Top 10 Tips For Building Your LinkedIn Profile