A reader who hasn’t been able to find a job was frustrated by my advice from another post: “Don’t just rely on job listings that everyone else can also see.” He said he has no network and no ability to form a network; so job listings are the “absolute only way I can get my foot in the door.”
He goes on to say: “Walking into places and filling in the forms doesn’t help, since even if they don’t tell me to apply online, they’re going to ignore me, anyway. I’ve been at this for a while and I know it won’t get me anything. My last job interview was several months ago, and I got turned down for unskilled entry level work. But this is all I can do.”
Why networking matters so much
It makes me sad that this reader feels so helpless and hopeless. And I know he isn’t alone. And I also know that there are many people who are not connected to a broad networking community. But nowadays more than ever networking can be your new best friend.
A connection can get you to a job that isn’t listed. And it can get you past the often imperfect screening criteria of Human Resources. That’s why, as impossible as it may seem, it is critical to start now to build networking relationships, not just for your next job but for the rest of your career.
What networking isn’t
First I want to make sure we’re clear about what networking is … and what it isn’t. What networking is NOT:
- Finding someone who immediately and directly has a job for you.
- Contacting a few people and sitting back to see what happens.
- Relying on only people you know. (They are a good place to start.)
- Just talking about yourself and not trying to connect with the other person. (You may even be able to help them with their needs.)
- Begging for a job.
Remember … asking someone for help in your job search is not about charity. Many people like to help. And for the right employer you are a valuable asset!
So where do you start your networking?
Finding someone to help can happen anywhere at any time. Good places to begin are friends, family, former employers or co-workers, former professors or classmates, organizations in your field, religious groups, and places you volunteer (good for gaining experience and current references).
But you can open up your attempts to connect with people (who might know people who might know people who might know about jobs). Think about any place you might strike up a conversation that is NOT about jobs at first. Places like social gatherings or bars or restaurants or even supermarkets you go to often.
It’s best if you already have these connections, of course. But if you don’t, there’s no time like the present to start. It may take a while, but it may also mean that you are in a far better position a year from now … and hopefully much sooner!
And don’t forget job search support groups, both in-person and online. You might try contacting your local CareerOneStop or public library to find one near you. Here are some more tips to help you get started:
You can also research companies and try to find someone internal to the company to connect with:
And this post has some pointers that can help give you ideas for where to look beyond just networking:
Also, if job search is wearing you down:
Why you have to believe in yourself
It’s a mindset that lets you recognize opportunities, people, and ideas that can help. And it’s an attitude that radiates from every pore when people meet you and think about helping or even hiring.
It takes a determined, creative effort on your part to get beyond the normal closed doors. But you can do it!