However, the reality is the average job search can take months – even a year or more. But with a little networking savvy, you can greatly improve your chances of landing your perfect job in record time.
Bring back the personal communication. Don’t underestimate the human element in landing a new job. Job boards and internet postings are great resources, but when your job search slows, it’s time to step out from behind the computer screen. In fact, many job postings are never even advertised. That means the only way you’ll learn about these hidden gems is by networking with others.
Let others help. Surveys reveal that approximately 80% of jobs are found as a result of a personal referral. So don’t let your contacts go to waste. Make sure that everybody – from your Great Aunt Ethel to your mail carrier to the man sitting next to you on the airplane – knows you’re looking for a job and you’re open to recommendations. You might be surprised to discover how eager friends, family, and even casual acquaintances are to help you in your hunt for a job.
Make the most of referrals. After you put the word out that you’re in the market for a new job, keep the ball rolling by following up on all leads. For example, if the man on the airplane gives you his business card, send him an email or traditional letter within a day or two of your meeting. Thank him for taking the time to discuss your job search, and briefly reiterate what sort of job you’re seeking. Don’t forget to include an updated copy of your résumé in case your contact knows of an immediate opening.
Broaden your circle. If you’ve run out of leads using your current contacts, it’s time to expand your network. Joining professional groups, taking continuing education classes, or attending chamber of commerce meetings are great ways to widen your professional sphere. You’ll develop deeper relationships within these new networks by selecting the most promising groups and becoming an active member. Again, don’t keep your search a secret. Your new acquaintances can only help you if they know what you need.
Make the most of social networking sites. If you’re not currently using websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter consider creating profiles on these sites today. Used wisely, these sites can be powerful tools for connecting with a large network of potential employers and colleagues.
Set goals to keep you on track. Determine how much time you can invest in networking and set daily and weekly goals for meeting and following up with new contacts. Even making just a few extra phone calls or in-person visits each week can greatly speed up your job search.
Networking is a learned skill, and just like anything else worth developing, it requires practice to become a professional at it. From neighbors to former bosses, anyone can provide the referral you need to land your next big job. To make the most of your contacts, it’s essential to communicate your needs and ask for help.
If you’re ready to put your job search in the fast lane, take a step out of your comfort zone and away from the computer screen. You’ll soon discover the truth behind the saying, “It’s all about who you know.”