Q 5Q 5
Network Your Way to a Job ¡n the Hidden Market
The "hidden" job market may account for as many as 70 to 80 percent of all positions available. Companies don't always announce openings publicly because interviewing all the applicants, many of whom aren't qualified, is time consuming and costly. What's more, even when a job is advertised, companies dislike hiring "strangers." They are more comfortable hiring a person they know.
Smart job seekers won't count on the Internet or a newspaper's classified section to land a job. Recruitmax, an applicant-tracking company that powers corporate career sites, along with countless other human resources experts, admitted that "most new hires come by word of mouth and employee referrals." The key to finding a good job, then, is converting yourself from a "stranger" into a known quantity. Probably the best way to become a known quantity is by networking. You can use either traditional methods or online resources.
• Develop a list. Make a list of anyone who would be willing to talk with you about finding a job. List your friends, relatives, former employers, former coworkers, members of your religious community, people in social and athletic clubs, present and former teachers, neighbors, and friends of your parents. Also consider asking your campus career center for alumni contacts who will talk with students.
• Make contacts. Call the people on your list or, even better, try to meet with them in person. To set up a meeting, say, Hi, Aunt Martha' I'm looking for a job and I wonder if you could help me out. When could I come over to talk about it? During your visit be friendly, well organized, polite, and interested in what your contact has to say. Provide a copy of your résumé, and try to keep the conversation centered on your job-search area. Your goal is to get two or more referrals. In pinpointing your request, ask two questions: Do you know of anyone who might have an opening for a person with my skills? If the person
doesn't, ask, Do you know of anyone else who might know of someone who would?
• Follow up on your referrals. Call the people whose names are on your referral list. You might say something like, Hello. I'm Eric Rivera, a friend of Meredith Medcalf. She suggested that I call and ask you for help. I'm looking for a position as a management trainee, and she thought you might be willing to spare a few minutes and steer me in the right direction. Don't ask for a job. During your referral interview ask how the individual got started in this line of work, what he or she likes best (or least) about the work, what career paths exist in the field, and what problems must be overcome by a newcomer. Most important, ask how a person with your background and skills might get started in the field. Send an informal thank-you note to anyone who helps you in your job search, and stay in touch with the most promising contacts. Ask whether you may call every three weeks or so during your job search.
As with traditional networking, the goal of online networking is to make connections with people who are advanced in their fields. Ask for their advice about finding a job. Most people like talking about themselves, and asking them about their experiences is an excellent way to begin an online correspondence that might lead to "electronic mentoring," a letter of recommendation from an expert in the field, or information on an intern ship opportunity. Making online connections with industry professionals is a great way to keep tabs on the latest business trends and potential job leads. Here are possible online networking sources:
• Join a career networking groups. Build your own professional network by joining one or more of the following: http://www.linkedin.com, http://twitter.com, http://ryze.com , http://zerodegrees.com , and http://itsnotwhatyouknow.com. Some of these sites are fee based while others are free. Typically, joining a network requires creating a pass word, filling in your profile, and adding your business contacts. At some sites, you can specify search criteria to locate and then contact individuals directly. At other sites both parties' e-mail addresses are hidden. The site then acts as an intermediary connecting people only after they agree to share their contact information. Once you have connected with an individual, the content of your discussions and the follow-up will be similar to that of traditional networking. The medium, however, will center on electronic communication through e-mail and chat room discussions.
• Participate in a discussion groups and mailing lists. Two especially good discussion group resources for beginners are Yahoo! Groups ( http://groups.yahoo.com ) and Google Groups ( http://groups.google.com/ ). You may choose from groups in a variety of fields including business and computer technology. For example, if you click the Business/Finance listing, you will see links leading to more specialized groups. Click Employment and Work, and you will find career groups including construction, customer service, office administration, court reporting, and interior design
• Locate relevant blogs. Blogs are the latest trend for networking and sharing information. A quick Web search will result in hundreds of career-related blogs and blogs in your field of study. Many companies, such as Microsoft, also maintain employment-related blogs. A good list of career blogs can be found at http://www.quintcareers.com/career-related_blogs.html. You can also search a worldwide blog directory at http://www.blogcatalog.com/. Once you locate a relevant blog, you can read recent postings, search archives, and make replies.
Career Application. Everyone who enters the job market must develop a personal net work. Assume you are ready to change jobs or look for a permanent position.
To begin developing your personal network, do one of the following:
• Conduct at least one referral interview and report your experience to your class.
• Join one professional discussion group or mailing list. Ask your instructor to recommend an appropriate group for your field. Take notes on group discussions, and describe your reactions and findings to your class
• Find a blog related to your career or your major. After monitoring the blog for several days, describe your experience to your class.