With reporting by Emily K. Fuller
In an increasingly competitive job-market, standing out amongst the masses is key. A stellar resume serves as a great example of your accomplishments and capabilities, of course. All things being equal, the resume can be an effective tie-breaker. But chances are that with the current average 6:1 ratio of applicants-per-job posting, there are others whose on-paper presence is just as appealing. An outstanding resume can help you to the interview, but a little networking on your part can go a long way, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a recent survey of Quebecois government employees found that 42.7 percent of workers found their job through a ‘personal network.’
What’s more, a recent study from the National Institutes of Health, Effects of Networking on Career Success: a Longitudinal Study, showed a consistent significant positive correlation between career prospects and income on one hand and networking activities on the other.
To land your next job, be sure to keep your resume sparkling, and to create and maintain your connections by exploring these ten dimensions of networking.
Get a Head Hunter
Don’t do this alone. Everyone needs an advocate at some point. A good employment agency can be worth its weight in gold. Great employment counselors can give you valuable market intelligence and actionable feedback concerning your marketability – and how to improve it. These seasoned seekers know who’s who in the hiring business. (We’d prefer you chose Vitaver, of course!)
It’s not fair, but it’s the way of the world. Leverage your family, and their professional contacts. They’re going to be your best pushers, anyway (we hope!) Put the word out in your family that you are looking for a new job. Telling parents and extended family about your search can be a good way to get your resume into the right hands.
Start Your Own Networking Group
If you must, join a networking group. I say this just a little tongue in cheek, because the weaker networking groups are often groups of struggling, unconnected people themselves. You’ll see after you run into the third person trying to talk you into selling her scented candles. Look to join the groups that the successful people are in. My preference is for ones with some sort of fee or barrier to entry – for example, Chamber of Commerce members, who have paid a fee and many of whom will be established. (Remember, people who can’t afford to pay a lousy networking group fee probably can’t afford to hire you, either!)
No group nearby? No problem! Start your own! This is great experience, it sets you up as a leader in your business community in your own right, and a wonderful way to build a network of professionals in your desired field.
Guerrilla tip: Can’t afford to join a good one? Contact the organizer anyway. Offer to join the cleanup or planning committee. This goes for professional organizations, too. After all, you’ve got more time than money. Don’t let them freeze you out!
Establish Yourself as an Expert
Don’t wait for others to do it for you. Start the best blog in your niche! Make it the go-to website for information and commentary in your field, if you can. Starting your own blog or online resource on your own initiative also shows you are relatively techsavvy, and can help demonstrate your versatility as an employee.
Social Media Helps
Blogs are wonderful for longer-form writing, but they are so 2004. Use the newer social media tools like a global corkboard. Think Twitter and Pinterest, among others. Get involved, but don’t let it become a time sink. Let the Internet community know you are looking for a new position. Set your Facebook or Twitter status to alert your preexisting network to your job search. Consider adding “#hashtags” that connect to your area of interest to increase traffic, and to expand your search to people outside your current network.
Connect With Past Organizations
Reunions reunions can offer more than a night of reminiscing. Turn your next school or military unit reunion into a networking opportunity! Bring plenty of business cards, and dress to impress with a smile; a friendly attitude can speak louder than your accolades. Remember, you’re starting a relationship, not closing a sale.
Volunteer Your Time For Valuable Networking Opportunities
Volunteering your time is a wonderful way to get involved with the community, and to expand your connections. Bring business cards, and talk to other volunteers or coordinators about your area of interest. Working for “free” may just land you your next job! Charities are great places to get started, and often welcome people in your shoes. Look for Kiwanis, Rotary Clubs, veterans service organizations, political campaigns – anything. The whole idea is to serve your community, yes, but also to get shoulder-to-shoulder with successful people who will notice what you can do.
Yes, Use LinkedIn
Update your profile photo, resume, and certifications, and build your network of professionals on LinkedIn, an online networking forum. If you aren’t on it yet, think “Facebook” for professionals. Some tips to set yourself apart: Start or join a group involved in your area of interest, and post to get your name out there. There are plenty of groups specifically devoted to networking, too, which offer great advice for landing the career of your dreams. The site also offers a job-posting hub, and connects you to anyone in your network that may be a link, or have an extended link, to your desired company.
Throw A Networking Party
Mix business and pleasure with a networking party! Encourage friends to bring business cards, but keep the party casual. A relaxed environment can help to take some of the pressure off of the job hunt, and be a fun way to meet new people. Just make sure to keep the drinking to a minimum.
Attend Seminars, Lectures, and Workshops To Increase Connections
Continuing your education can be a great way to keep your skills sharp, and to open the door to new job opportunities. Dress professionally, and make a good first impression. You never know who you may meet that can assist you in your job search. As always, bring business cards, just in case. Join Toastmasters and work on your public speaking skills. Most importantly… get off the damned couch!
Finally, follow up. Send thank you notes. Email. Call. Treat people to coffee. (Coffee’s cheap. Lunch and dinner are expensive. If you have to spring for a meal, make it breakfast.) Most importantly, give. Give more than you get, and help the people around you. Networkers know who the sponges are. Do your best to help everyone you meet. Small acts can go a long way when you’re building your network for new job opportunities.