Job seekers are often told that the secret to finding a job is through networking. I believe that’s very true. However, these factors are also important: job boards, recruiters, a good resume, your digital footprint (LinkedIn profile, etc.) and continuing education. But, the common thread that weaves through all of these important resources is networking.
When networking, I’m a firm believer in two guiding principles:
Want to know what’s even more important than networking? Want to know what’s the secret to a successful job search? You must tell your network that you’re looking for employment! I recently learned that two friends lost their jobs, but I learned of this somewhat after the fact and indirectly. Job seekers – your network cannot help you if they don’t know you’re looking for work!
Losing a job can be a hit to the ego, in addition to the checkbook. I’ve been there; I understand that. You don’t need a billboard to announce your availability and you certainly don’t want to be over-the-top with your announcement. That can make you appear desperate, which can backfire. However, here are four things you should do immediately.
- Update/Change your LinkedIn profile. Some job seekers are worried about showing a gap in their employment history. While that’s understandable, it’s worse to be misleading and confuse people who can help. Make sure you make it easy for people to contact you!
- Contact your friends and family. Who’s more likely to help when you need help – friends and family or casual acquaintances? Most people “take care of their own” first, but they can’t help if they don’t know. Call or send them a private message – but be specific with your ask! I have 150+ friends on Facebook, but I probably know the career paths of less than 25% of them because our relationship on Facebook isn’t for professional reasons. If interested, there are Facebook apps that can facilitate this.
- Contact your professional connections. LinkedIn allows you to send messages to those you are connected to, so why not take advantage of this and touch base with your connections? Remember the “give to get” philosophy of networking, so your message should not be all about you. If you expect help, you should offer help first. If you’ve been a ghost in your network, then I’m afraid you’re about to learn a very hard lesson at an unfortunate time.
- Update recruiters you’re connected with on your search, the positions you’re looking for and the companies you’re interested in. Make sure to ask them how frequently they wish to be updated (typically it’s monthly, but ask) about your search and interests. Be sure to schedule and conduct those follow-ups to stay top of mind!
My question to those who have successfully navigated the job search waters is this . . . If you had to narrow down all of the various pieces of job search advice into the singular most important thing someone could do, what would that one thing be?