Most people don’t look for work or manage their career; they answer ads. While people do find jobs this way, their progress is slow and often frustrating. A small display ad will bring in between 100-500 responses, which means it takes companies time to sort through resumes. No matter how good your resume might be, it is easy to get lost in such a large pile. There is also competition. Answering an ad is like swimming in a pool filled with hungry sharks. Someone as good as you might be willing to work for lower wages because that person is hungrier – or more desperate.
So how do you get noticed and called to interviews? Try taking a more direct path to an employer’s door: networking. Contact professional acquaintances, friends, relatives and let them know the kind of job you are seeking. Ask them if they have any advice or if they know anyone you should talk to. Initially, many people will say no only to call back in a week or two with the kind of lead that will get you an interview, if not a job.
Network contacts don’t always need your resume, but you should give them some verbal message that they can use to connect you with potential employers. Many experts call this a “thirty second commercial” or “elevator speech.” For example, a pharmaceutical sales representative might say: “I have 15 years experience in pharmaceutical sales and a proven ability to increase business. My presentation skills are strong, and I’m comfortable dealing with general practitioners and specialists.”
Online networking (Facebook, LinkedIn) gives job seekers more options to connect with people they know or have worked with in the past. These contacts are possible referrals, and they may know about openings in a given industry. Like “offline” networking, the online variety comes with no guarantees. It requires that you develop and maintain relationships. Most importantly, you have to be patient and keep working.
Effective networking is not a simple way to land interview or job. However, it offers a better tool to understand your career and manage it. Network contacts see your skills from different angles and guide you in marketing those gifts. They can also help you uncover new positions in your field and even change careers.
Keep records of everyone you contact during your job search and schedule follow up calls with people who say they can help you. Be sure that you thank everyone, even those people who say that they cannot help your right now. Good networkers try to look out for others whenever possible. Their attitude is not “how can you help me,” but “how can we help each other?”