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Seven Hidden Secrets for Expanding Your Job Search Network


If you think you don’t have a network of people, think again. We all know people, lots of people. The older we are the more people we know. Any one of those people could potentially lead you to a job offer. Never underestimate the benefits of networking with those you know as well as those you don’t know. The title of this article includes the words “hidden secrets.” They are “hidden” because job seekers are often not even aware that they exist. See if some of the hidden secrets presented here are ones that you haven’t thought about. And if that’s the case, add them to your arsenal of strategies for expanding your job search network.

Hidden Secret #1-Your job search should include an organized approach that includes contacting people who are most likely to help accelerate your efforts.
There is a difference between just “telling everyone” you’re looking for a job and networking. Most people who tell everyone they are unemployed tend to verbalize it as a feeling of distress over the situation they are in. They tend to give others the impression that they are looking for sympathy. In networking, while you share with others that you are unemployed (or interested in changing jobs), you approach making contacts in an organized manner. You have a goal and you are looking for information and suggestions rather than sympathy. Use your time and energy to network with people you’ve never met before, not just tell people you know that you’re out of work.

Hidden Secret #2-Recognize that newspaper ads have their place
Approximately 25 to 30 percent of all available jobs are advertised in the newspaper. The other 70 to 75 percent are part of the “hidden” market, but are not always obvious. Your challenge is to find those 70 to 75 percent of opportunities through your network of people. Newspaper ads are only one of many sources for identifying job opportunities. Don’t make the mistake of relying on the newspaper or Internet exclusively. Networking is still the best way to make contacts with people who can lead you to job interviews and offers. And as you are networking, don’t forget old friends and acquaintances. Sometimes all it takes is a “howdy call” to reconnect with someone who could change the course of your future. As you begin your search, keep an open mind about the contacts and resources available to you. The newspaper is only one avenue for finding your next job opportunity. Get creative and help yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Hidden Secret #3-Orient yourself to face to face action
It would be easy to apply for jobs on-line or through the newspaper and wait for the phone to ring. If that’s what you are doing, run from this passive search strategy now! You need to get in front of people even if it makes you uncomfortable. Face to face contact is by far the most effective way to generate job leads. Your goal is to develop networks by intentionally cultivating relationships with acquaintances and strangers alike. How hard can it be? Very hard if you don’t get your mind set to get out and network and not worry about what people think of you. Meeting strangers actually has its benefits and if one of those benefits is a potential job leads, it’s the icing on the cake. Once you’ve connected face to face, work to get informational as well as referral interviews. With each of these interviews, you are less likely to be rejected because you are not asking for a job, only information, advice and referrals. One of the biggest benefits of face to face action is that you have less competition than you would if you were depending upon the Internet to lead you to a job opportunity because many people are uncomfortable networking and won’t do it.

Hidden Secret #4-Try the cold turkey approach
If you are not having any luck with your immediate circle of friends, family, business acquaintances, lawyer, accountant, banker, old college friends, distant relatives, co-workers, insurance agent, community leaders, minister, priest, rabbi, etc., it’s time to think about the cold turkey approach. Pick up the telephone and start calling companies that are part of your targeted market list. Ask to speak to the vice president of engineering (avoid the human resources department as their job is to screen people out). If you get through, know what you’re going to say. Keep in mind, you are taking up the valuable time of a stranger. Get to the point and ask if he or she knows of anyone who might be interested in talking to someone with your qualifications. If you’re lucky, the individual on the other end of the phone will say, “As a matter of fact, we have an opening for an engineer with your background and qualifications. Would you like to come in for an interview?” This is easier than it sounds. However, the cold turkey approach can be very effective, but it takes persistence. It’s less effort to just sit in front of your computer and apply for jobs on line. However, there is generally a direct correlation between effort and results.

Hidden Secret #5-Don’t overlook electronic networking
As mentioned earlier in this article, the Internet is not the best source for networking, however, people do get jobs via the Internet. Think of it as one of many ways to find a job. With worldwide access to people and job opportunities, checking web sites and exchanging e-mails should be included on your list of things to do on a daily basis. Just don’t make it the only thing you do or allow it to consume too much of your time. In addition, when using the Internet, don’t forget the “town halls” where you can chat with people who have mutual interests. As you network, keep in mind that for every ten people you contact, nine will reject you. The best part of networking is that the more rejections you get, the closer you are to “yes!”

Hidden Secret #6-Use job fairs to network
Some job seekers overlook job fairs because they don’t recognize the potential value of the opportunities presented there. Although most job fairs offer only a few minutes with each company representative, job fairs are a great place to network and gather information about potential employers. Job fairs can also lead to job offers. Psyche yourself up, dress as you would for a job interview, bring plenty of hardcopy resumes, and muster the courage to speak up in your own behalf. You have nothing to lose and much to gain by putting yourself “out there” and networking at job fairs.

Hidden Secret #7-Use business cards
Job seekers need business cards. Try vistaprint.com for free custom-printed business cards. All you pay for is shipping. Or, order cards at an office supply store; they’re inexpensive and they are a “must have” item for networking. Your name and phone number is sufficient. However, you may also want to include a job title or two that best describes what you are looking for. And skip the “cute” graphics; keep it professional looking.

In conclusion, expanding your network of contacts will significantly improve your opportunity for finding a job. However, don’t overlook the Internet, newspaper advertisements, recruiters and any other resource that could potentially put you in from of a hiring manager who has the authority to say, “You’re hired.” Get over your fear of talking to strangers. Present yourself as a professional who would be a big asset to their department/organization and believe it! And don’t forget to have business cards ready to exchange.

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