Saying you need to network to get a job today is such a common trope the very words have lost all meaning. You keep hearing you simply need to reach out to "some" people, say you are "looking" for a job, and then, somehow, end up with one. But what does it actually take to network and what do you need to do? We called a career expert in South Texas, Alexine Garcia, to find out.
After years of writing resumes and helping shape people's careers for years, Garcia told us to be successful during networking, you need to pay attention to six specific things. And that you have to do them whether you're connecting with friends, colleagues or strangers, in a room with other people or online.
- Take networking seriously
Garcia says the most important stat you should know about networking is that 50 percent of all jobs in the United States are not posted online. It's true. Half of all jobs available are posted internally (or known only to executives) and go to candidates companies know. It also means getting in touch directly with those people could lead to you being considered for those jobs."Hiring officials want personal references from employees instead of having to go through the process of hiring a cold applicant," she says.
- Reach out to only two friends at a company you know is hiring
You have to be strategic about which friends to reach out to. Garcia says two people you trust per company is the right amount because it might seem desperate otherwise, giving off the impression you don't trust your friends. Worse, they might think you don't know them well enough to give you a recommendation on their behalf. "You should say, 'would you be able to put in a good word for me or can I pass you my resume for you to pass on? I think I'm a good fit for [these reasons],'" she tells us. Anything more than that is overkill.
- Consider job search communications etiquette
Don't post public messages on your buddy's Facebook page asking her to "hook you up" with a job. Don't send her emails or phone calls or texts every day (or every other day), much less with tactless sayings like, "Hey, got my emails?" In other words, don't be an annoying pest! "That type of message and [behavior] is just not serious," says Garcia. There are more courteous ways to approach friends who can help you get a job. For example, use professional, respectful language like "I was following up on email." After your first message to your friend or colleague, the expert recommends you move on to the next person. "If you get a response and they don't follow through, then go ahead and check in with them a week later. "This is why creating a tracking job search spreadsheet or doc is smart. You can see who you've reached out to, who has responded, and who you need to follow up with.
- Find out whether your connection has hiring privileges
You can't take advantage of a relationship or assume friends will set you up with employment simply because of connections, Garcia says. It might actually hurt your chances."If they are a hiring official, you need to tread more carefully and be careful with nepotism because there's a chance you being their friend might take you out of the running."
- Reach out through LinkedIn, but don't mention on your profile you're looking for a job
Garcia says LinkedIn is a great place to talk about employment because most people are in career mode when logged in there. That means more are likely to respond and connect you with hiring officials. The only problem, she says, is not everyone checks their account regularly. Another issue using LinkedIn for networking is writing on your profile about actively searching for a job. Garcia recommends people not do that. It appears unfocused to hiring officers, she says. "Instead your posts on LinkedIn should be geared towards being a good employee and showing your accomplishments so that your network is aware of what you can do."
- Use your quarantine time to perfect calls, video meetings and email systems
Garcia says networking in person was a laborious exercise and the COVID-19-induced quarantine might actually help people prepare for at-home interviews into the future. So taking the time to figure out your video-lighting situation, the audio quality of calls and a job tracking search process from your home will not only help you find a job now, but should set you up well for future networking events on Zoom and other remote platforms.
- Reach out to friends and family you haven't connected with in awhile
This is the most difficult time in generations to get a job but Garcia says the situation might actually favor job seekers if they seek out old friends and colleagues. That's because many people, especially those in the position to hire, know others need help and won't worry too much about why you happened to think about them after all this time."So if someone is in a position to help you," Garcia says, "they're going to understand your circumstance, like if you've been let go for reasons over your head."