As you adjust your job search strategy to the “new normal,” you’ll find that the advantages of networking are more important than ever before. As unemployment numbers continue to climb and the recession threatens to double dip at worst and creep forward at best, having a personal referral into a position makes all the difference in the world.
Though the economy may be slow to recover and jobs may be added slowly over the next year or two, if you are surviving layoffs or cant find a job, don’t lost heart. Networking to find a job is key. Here are five things to keep in mind to help you stand out from the crowd:
- Be Flexible – The job environment has changed; you should too. Rather than focus only on securing a full-time position, consider other options. Consulting, freelancing, part-time positions, temporary assignments or even a career change all offer income alternatives to full-time employment and make it easier for you to expand your reach, as you will naturally be networking to find a job.
- Make Yourself Findable – Have you ever Googled yourself? If you haven’t, you’d better give it a try. Now. Open a new browser window. I’ll wait.If you don’t come up in the search or if you don’t like what does come up, act now. Your online profiles are critical and one of the first things an employer will look at when considering you for a position. Start with LinkedIn. Make sure your profile is strong — with the keywords and a touch of personality. Here’s a great link for how to create a LinkedIn profile — tried and true. LinkedIn offers other advantages too: Join groups such as past employers or alumni associations. This will help expand your network and make networking to find a job even easier. Use a similar approach to your profile at ZoomInfo, Facebook and other social media sites. Just be sure to keep it professional and assume that your potential employer will see everything you post.
- Work with Recruiters — Professional Recruiters can be considered a great networking resource as you look for full-time work. As you are networking to find a job, be sure to ask your colleagues about any recruiters they would recommend, then get in touch with them. You can also find directories of recruiters for your particular niche online or at the local library. While they are not the only answer, they are a terrific resource to have on your side. (Of course, I’m not biased.)
- Volunteer — Actively giving back to the community has several advantages, not least of which is helping others. It also expands your network, builds leadership skills and helps keep your focus on others during a time when that is more important than ever. Find something you enjoy — something you are passionate about and step up to the plate. You’ll find it is a win-win all around.
- Networking to Find a Job — Nothing is more important than staying in touch with a growing network of supporters through a phone call, handwritten note or email. People care when you care and although it takes time and energy to cultivate your network, it is well worth it. Make a commitment to have lunch or coffee with a different networking contact at least three times a week. Build friendships. If you need to brush up on your skills, Robin Jay’s book, The Art of the Business Lunch is a terrific place to start.
If you adopt an attitude of building friendships and relationships as you are networking to find a job, you’ll find that your job search is more natural and enjoyable.
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