Yes, I was and still am an unabashed English major. I love literature, language and words – specifically finding a way to contextualize new concepts. And, if Thomas Hardy can help us peel back the layers of secrecy protecting the hidden job market, I am all for it. Remember Hardy’s themes in Jude the Obscure: class, scholarship, religion, marriage and the modernization of thought and society? Strikes me that many of those 19th-century themes still challenge us today.
A huge advantage that we have and Hardy’s characters did not is our ability to cross – to a certain extent – over class, education and social barriers as we try to secure the job we want. Networking is key to negotiating these hurdles. First and foremost, conservative estimates are that 80% of jobs are never posted in classifieds or job boards. That “hidden” 80% is filled by referrals from one trusted individual to another through networks.
Networking helps you successfully market your identity, skills and experience. Whether it is the traditional one-on-one meeting or virtual introductions via social media channels, networking also provides a way for people with whom you’d like to work to get to know you and for you to get to know the behind-the-scenes story of the organization where you’d like to work. It’s all about good fit, and that works both ways. It’s not just about you trying to fit the mold to secure the job.
Your networking should be purposeful. It takes on-going commitment and nurturing. A few valuable beginning steps were posted by our Canadian blogging colleague, Stephanie Clark:
Her first advice is “Get Started!
- Ask for an informational meeting with someone who is doing the job you want. Use the meeting to ask questions about necessary credentials, industry trends and so on. Do not ask for a job; build a relationship.
- Research companies to identify which ones you would love to work for. Contact your immediate network of friends, family, and neighbours, and ask who knows of someone employed by one of these companies. Ask them to ask their circle as well. Remember that we are all connected through a scant six degrees of separation.
- Join professional organizations, alumni groups, social clubs, volunteer organizations, sports teams—whichever suits your style. Network within these.
- Read with an eye for new business news, calendars of events, construction projects, interviews with local business leaders—and follow up on promising leads.
- Go for it. If you see a job that you truly fit, approach the receptionist or call the supervisor. If you can’t speak with the right person, perhaps you can get your resume in front of the right person.
- Create an online presence with profiles on LinkedIn, MySpace or Twitter. Write a blog, post articles on EzineArticles.com and create your free resume webpage on VisualCV.com.
- Create a business card for networking purposes that contains not only your contact information, but also your Value Proposition. Carry it at all times and hand out a few daily.
Hiring is a social act. Most hires are based not only on skill and past experience, but also on chemistry. If you don’t “fit” the company, you’re not offered the position. Networking allows you to establish a connection before the interview process. It also proves that you are a go-getter, and that you know how to communicate and develop relationships.
As you go about meeting people make sure that you maintain an atmosphere of mutual exchange, not personal gain. Be present, not thinking of your next appointment; be selective, not trying to squish as many contacts as possible into every day; and make the effort to establish ongoing relationships when you feel a connection. Share ideas, information, and resources—helping with true value establishes your true value!”