“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a pretty well-known phrase when it comes to job seeking. It’s no wonder really, as according to a recent study published by LinkedIn, 80% of all vacant job roles are found and filled through networking before they’re even published! I’ve spent a long time with my fair share of career transition clients and they’ve found this out the hard way: that relying on recruitment consultants to find their next role and applying to job ads is one of the most inefficient ways of finding their next role. To prevent you from wasting time when it comes to job seeking, here is how to use your network to find a job.
5 ways to leverage ‘who you know’
1. Know what you are looking for
If you want to use your network to find your next role, you need to be clear about what you’re looking for. If you’re not, then the role that you want will inevitably go to someone else, someone who was more deliberate in their approach.
Focus and motivation are two factors which separate the successful job seeker from the unsuccessful job seeker, so know what you want and go for it. You need to be very disciplined with how many people you talk to and what you talk to them about so planning and communicating clearly are key here.
2. Exploit the power of LinkedIn
If you’re thinking about how to use your network to find a job, your first port of call needs to be LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a goldmine for connections so it stands to reason that it is a job seeker’s haven. If you don’t believe me, then just look at the stats. According to the stats peddled on LinkedIn, a new member joins approximately every second, and current membership levels are at 690+ million in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. 61 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions, so as you can imagine, that’s a significant chunk of professionals that you could be targeting every day.(If you would like some FREE templates to help you build a great LinkedIn professional headline and summary, see here.)
So, since LinkedIn is becoming the new Monster for recruiters looking for suitable professional candidates, it goes without saying that your social profile needs to be immaculate. Think about it as your online CV, a CV that is branded for the role you want, rather than the role you have now. To make your profile stand out to your target recruiters, here are a few things that you need to have in place:
- Recommendations from your contact list, as these do make you stand out from your peers.
- Keywords relevant to the type of roles you are looking for, pepper these throughout.
- Use the ‘summary’ box to write your personal elevator pitch and the specialities field to list your technical expertise, as many recruiters will use this field to search profiles on.
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3. Work your way through your contacts
There is no substitute for pressing the flesh and working your way through your little black book, so get out there and start having those conversations. Write a list of everyone that you know personally and professionally, divide them into 3 categories (likely to help, not sure if can help, and unlikely to help) and work your way through your list starting with the ‘likely to help’ group. As you speak with all your contacts make sure you ask the question – ‘who can you recommend that I talk with who can help me?’
If you maintain an excel spreadsheet with all your contacts and update it as you contact everyone on your list, you’ll soon start to make valuable connections. Although you’ll want to maintain more frequent contact with people in the ‘likely to help’ and ‘not sure if can help’ categories, don’t discount the people in the ‘unlikely to help’ category. When thinking about how to use your network to find a job, it’s important to remember that every person may know someone who knows someone who can help you. For example, I have helped someone I have met through a playgroup I attend to get a role at a local accountancy firm.
4. Build close relationships with your recruitment consultants
“It’s who you know, not what you know” – remember? Bear this in mind when thinking about recruiter consultants. When a recruitment consultant gets briefed about a role, you need to be top of their mind. They have a lot of people in front of them that have the necessary skills so how will you stand out? How will you establish yourself as a person to them rather just a CV?
To make yourself stand out and become a person that they know, try to build a relationship with them. For example, what worked for me was when I saw a role advertised was phoning the agent direct and talking them through my personal elevator pitch before sending them my CV. This approach guaranteed myself getting onto the agency’s books. Once I was properly established on an agency’s books, I would then phone them once a fortnight at least to establish contact.
5. Have an open mind
If you don’t have an open mind, you run the risk of not seeing potential opportunities as they arise. For example, in the past, I received a speculative application for my business. At the point in time, I was not recruiting, but after receiving the letter I rang the letter writer directly – offering to have a conversation as I saw an interesting opportunity to expand my personal network. The letter writer, however, never returned my call.
Now, whether they had secured another role or they were just afraid of being rejected for this one, this was a missed opportunity to make a connection. A potentially valuable one that could have resulted in other opportunities that they had perhaps never thought of. Having never heard from them again, I’m far less likely to want to work this person in the future, so what’s the takeaway here? To put it simply, be prepared to face rejection in your job search but always be open to possibilities and to have a conversation. You never know where or what or WHO it may lead to…
Networking is a powerful tool for job-seeking (you just have to know how to wield it)
If you’re not getting anywhere with your job search, it may be because you’re not leveraging who you know. As we said as the beginning of this article, 80% of vacant roles are never published so you need to know how to use your network to find a job. To get the most out of your network, you need to be clear with what you’re looking for, have a strong profile on LinkedIn, build close relationships with recruiters, work your way through all your contacts, and be open to possibilities whatever they are.
Need more help with how to use your network to find a job?
More articles to help you find your next role, and when there, thrive:
- The 4 best Business Networking Books for Lawyers and Accountants
- 11 tips to survive and thrive when you move to a new firm – Part 1
- 11 tips to survive and thrive when you move to a new firm – Part 2
- 12 ways your LinkedIn profile will help you get a new job – Part 1
- 12 ways your LinkedIn profile will help you get a new job – Part 2