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Networking-The Job Market

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Networking-The Job Market

Hidden Job Market
Did you know that 80 percent of jobs are filled through networking? [1]

Networking is sometimes referred to as the “hidden job market” because many jobs are filled before they are ever posted. Traffic at job boards like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and Yahoo! HotJobs is up 37 percent over last year, which means that companies are deluged with résumés.

Despite the influx in résumés, companies are using more networking-traditional and online-to fill their open jobs.

In fact, about 50 percent of Facebook’s new hires come from referrals from existing employees. According to Molly Graham, manager of Facebook Human Resources and Recruitment, “One of our main philosophies is to get smart and talented people. They tend to be connected.”

Zappos, a billion-dollar US online retailer of shoes and apparel that was recently purchased by Amazon, has taken employee referrals to the next level and has implemented software that lets employees use their LinkedIn and Twitter contacts. The software uses an algorithm to identify people who might have a skill set and experience match for open positions and then allows employees to invite the prospective candidate to apply. [2]

Create a Networking Plan
Networking is about building relationships that are mutually beneficial.

It is about the exchange of value between people, it requires a relationship and ongoing commitment. Networking can be a very effective method to potentially learn about or land the job you want. You might be wondering where to start and exactly how you network effectively. To help guide you, consider the following six networking steps.

Network with Confidence
Join Organizations
Create a Networking List
Know What to Say
Online Social Networking

Start building relationships with people now. That will give you the opportunity to build relationships and potentially help someone even before you begin your job search.

When you do begin networking to find a job, be yourself and get to know as many people as possible. Keep in mind that you may have the opportunity one day to help the person with whom you are networking, so network with confidence. [3] You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help you because you ask. The fact is people want to help you; they want to see you succeed.

Join Organizations
There’s no better place to meet people you want to work with than to go where they go.

Professional organizations such as the American Marketing Association, Entrepreneurs Organization, Public Relations Society of America, and others provide the perfect environment to meet people in the industry in which you want to work. Go to a meeting; most organizations allow non members to attend at least one meeting or event at no charge. Besides providing an excellent networking method, being a member of a professional organization also enhances your résumé.

But don’t just join-get involved. You can impress people with your skills, drive, and work ethic by getting involved in a committee, planning an event, working on the organization’s Web site, or other project.

It’s a great way to build your experience and your résumé and impress prospective employers. At the same time, you can be developing professional references to speak on your behalf.

Create Your Networking List
Networking, like selling, is personal. So make a list of all the people you know with whom you can network.

Don’t disqualify anyone because you think they can’t help. You never know who knows someone who might be the link to your next job. Follow the same strategy for your personal networking as you would use for selling: write down the four F’s-friends, family, friends’ family, and family’s friends, using a format like the example shown in the Sample Networking List. [4]

Know What to Say
You will be delivering your brand message to everyone with whom you are networking, so be specific about what you are looking for.

Always take the opportunity to expand your network by asking for the names of other people whom you might contact. You will be surprised at how many people may be able to give you the name of someone you can contact. Not everyone will give you a name, but if you don’t ask, most people won’t think about whom they might know.You might also network with someone who gives you the name of someone to contact.

If someone has referred you, always include that as part of your introduction. If your networking takes place via e-mail, you should do the same thing.

When you send your résumé to someone with whom you are networking via e-mail, it’s best to include your three bullet points from your cover letter as the body of the e-mail. In most cases the person to whom you are sending your résumé is forwarding it to someone else. Writing a short, easy-to-skim note helps tell every recipient what you have to offer.

Social Networking
Social networking sites can be a more powerful job search tool than most people realize, and their power can go both ways.

When you’re preparing to apply for jobs, keep in mind that a growing number of employers search social networking sites like Facebook to weed out applicants who might not fit with their company culture. In fact, 22 percent of employers claim to use social networking sites when considering potential hires, and of those employers, 34 percent said they chose not to hire a candidate based on the information they had dug up about that person online. [5]

One human resources manager based in Seattle, says she has turned down an otherwise promising job candidate’s application on a number of occasions after visiting the applicant’s networking profile.

“Sometimes there are compromising photos or videos posted out there where anyone can find them,” she says. “When that happens, those applications go right in the trash.” [6]

You can find out all kinds of things about a person from his online profile that you couldn’t necessarily learn from his cover letter or résumé! As social networking expert Patrice-Anne Rutledge says, before you go on the job market, make sure you “get rid of your digital dirt.”

In particular, look through any videos or photographs you may have uploaded to your profile, any Web sites you may have linked to, and any personal information you reveal that may be controversial or reflect on you in a negative light. [7]

“Get rid of your digital dirt” [8] now, before you even start applying for jobs. Your online profile could negatively impact your chances of getting a job at your chosen company. Gauge the appropriateness of the photographs, and comments on your pages and decide whether it would be a problem if a potential employer saw them. Social networking sites are tools you can leverage to great advantage in your job search if you use them proactively. LinkedIn is the biggest and most frequently used networking site, but there are a number of others, that allow you to create a professional profile and find contacts in your target industry or at target companies. [9]

Think about the skills and qualities that make you unique. What sets you apart as your own distinctive brand? Your online networking profile should reflect this. Don’t just reproduce your résumé; make your profile into your “elevator speech,” highlighting your interests and using power words to describe your experience and talents.

Your network profile is searchable on Google, so give some thought to the keywords you use to describe yourself. [10]

LinkedIn allows you to search your e-mail address book for contacts that also have accounts, so you can easily grow your network. In addition, you can start using your LinkedIn profile badge on outgoing e-mails, and, if you have one, on your Web site. When you publicize yourself this way, people will start linking to you. [11]

Many companies and recruiters are accelerating their use of LinkedIn. “We could not believe the candidates we got” from LinkedIn, says Scott Morrison, director of global recruiting programs at software giant Salesforce.com. [12]

As you begin to build a professional network online, you can use it the same way you would use a regular social network.

Ask people for recommendations of your work and for referrals to new contacts.

Sites like LinkedIn have thousands of groups that are specific to interest, location, hobbies, and industry.

Join your local professional group, but don’t stop there; search for other groups that are in the industry you want to pursue.

You can just listen to the conversation and then jump in when you feel comfortable.

Be sure your profile is compelling and up-to-date. In addition, use your social networking pages to create content to demonstrate your skills.

For example, write a blog and link it to your Facebook page or post tweets on Twitter about a project on which you are working, a topic about which you are passionate. Get people to follow you and engage in the dialogue. Direct them to your personal Web site, samples of your work, or the content you have created.

Social networking gives you the opportunity to show and sell with content that you create.

More and more employers are using professional social networking sites to post jobs and seek out prospective employees. [13]

It’s worth your time to review the job postings using the appropriate keywords.

Follow-up is important in every part of your job search, so follow up with everyone with whom you network.

Sometimes, people are simply distracted or overwhelmed at the time you first contacted them. Or sometimes their situation has changed, even in just a few days; you won’t know this unless you follow up with them. It’s good to keep in mind that networking is all about exchange of value. Sometimes, you may not find people who want the value you have to offer at the time you are offering it. Don’t be discouraged.

It’s best to follow up by phone within one week of a contact. It may seem easier to follow up by e-mail, but you increase your likelihood of being successful and building a relationship when you follow up by phone. Don’t simply leave a voice mail message as it is unlikely that someone will return your call.

Continue to call until your contact answers the phone, or leave a voice mail and tell her when you will call back along with your e-mail address. Then, call back when you say you will. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Keep in mind that networking is an ongoing process, whether you are looking for a job or not. When you establish a relationship with someone, keep in touch with them. You should touch base with people in your network at least once every four to six weeks. It’s good to call to catch up, but an e-mail can be just as powerful.

Send a link to an article or video that you think they will like. It’s a perfect reason for keeping in touch and helps establish you as someone who delivers value, even when you are not looking for something.


Creating a networking plan will help make your networking efforts more effective.

Networking is about exchanging value, not collecting business cards.

It’s best to begin networking even before you are looking for a job so you can get to know people and provide value to them.

Always network with confidence. You are not asking for a favor-you are simply tapping into a reciprocal business practice.

It’s a good idea to create a networking list including friends, family, family’s friends, friends’ family, and everyone else you know. Write down their names and contact information so you don’t miss anyone.

Practice what you want to say when you network with people. It’s best to be specific about what you are looking for and always ask for another person with whom you can network. Online professional social networks such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, and other networking sites including Facebook and Twitter can help you expand your network and build relationships with many people who might be able to help put you in touch with the right people.

Your social networking pages represent your personal brand. Be sure that all words, pictures, and videos are appropriate for prospective employers to view.

Follow-up is the key to making networking work; don’t assume that because you haven’t heard back from someone that he doesn’t want to talk to you. Take the time to follow up within one week of every contact.