Have you started exploring the ‘Hidden Job Market’ yet and are you building a network of contacts? Or are you still relying on the same-old-same-old of applying to advertised openings to land that next job? I’m sure you’ve heard of the Hidden Job Market. However, I think it’s worth a reminder that there are many unfilled and un-advertised jobs. So the idea is to work on your networking skills so you can meet people who can hire you before a job is made available through the traditional channels.
I recently promised to follow with a blog post to explain in more detail how you can get yourself into and in front of the Hidden Job Market opportunities. I believe in small steps – so I suggest you start with 3 essential networking steps to break into the HIDDEN JOB MARKET.
Step 1 Foundation work
Start a list of people you know and contact them
I am sure you can come up with a list of people whom you are friendly with and I am also sure that they know people and those people know people who know other people and so on… I suggest you create a structured list of the people you know best on friendly private and professional terms; then make a separate list of all your relatives. These lists alone often add up to 25 to 100 people or more.
Next, think of other contacts or groups with whom you have something in common, such as: former co-workers or class or club mates; former employers; members of your social groups; members at your fitness club; members of your professional association; and maybe even members of your religious group. It is possible that you will not know many of them personally, but I am confident that many will want to help you if you ask them properly. Think of every one of these people as an opportunity. As with everything in life, I guess some people on your lists will turn out to be more helpful than others, but any one of them could help you find a job lead.
Step 2 Canvassing and seeking help
Now ask your opportunities for help (leads)
Practice early and start with your relatives and friends. This is not easy and most people I know are not overly comfortable with asking for help. If you are more comfortable with a Twitter or Facebook direct message to them, go for it. Or email, text or call them. Be genuine and brief and explain to them that you are looking for a job and need their help. But be as clear as possible about what you are looking for and what skills and qualifications you have.
Don’t waste their time, so be prepared and maybe have a short script with info (facts, figures and numbers) in front of you. It’s possible they will know of a job lead or opening they feel might be a possible fit for you. If that happens, get the details and jump on it! It is more likely, however, that they won’t have an opening, lead or anything else top of mind. If this happens to you, don’t give up. Stay calm and polite and ask if they mind if you ask a few more questions. Try these three next:
- Do you know of any job openings for a person with my skills? The answer often tends to be no and they may have already indicated this to you. If it is, ask the next question.
- Do you know of someone else who might know of a job opening? If your contact does, get that name and ask for another one. If he or she doesn’t, ask the next question.
- Do you know of anyone who might know of someone else who might? Another good way to ask this is, “Do you know someone who knows lots of people?” If all else fails this will usually get you a name.
Step 3 Networking
Contact all your leads to ask the same set of questions.
For each original contact, you can extend your network of acquaintances by potentially hundreds of people. The more you expand your network the higher the chance that one of these people will hire you or refer you to someone who will.
Networking takes time and requires you to work for a while. It’s not easy. But a dedicated networking approach can be the search tool that delivers the job result. And, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the conversations and contacts, remind yourself that this is not all about finding job openings.
Networking is mostly about building relationships with people who know other people, who may know other people who know of jobs. I have networked all my professional life because of my work in sales and marketing and the key learning I took away from networking is that it is also about getting advice about your search and insight into the organisations or areas you’re trying to break into. Don’t worry too much about your style – you will improve and gain confidence as you move along.
Start with these 3 steps and if you want to know more about networking visit the tags in my blog. Feel free to share your own tips for networking and provide us with your comments! But, whatever you do, hunt wisely!