Networking Is the Key
In our electronic, online world of today, your job search can still benefit from talking to people both on the phone and face to face. It’s true! Lesson 4 focuses on networking that doesn’t take place through the computer.
It’s likely that your community has job fairs or that there is one held nearby occasionally. The job fair may be sponsored by your local government workforce agency, a community group, a place of worship, or a specific industry or employer. Colleges have job fairs, and many welcome both students and alumni to attend. Search online for events in your area and put them on your calendar.
As you stroll through a job fair, stop at the table of any employer who might have a job of interest to you. Ask directly about openings and offer to leave your resume. Treat table visits as mini-interviews. Dress appropriately and be professional at all times.
Direct Employer Contact
Most large organizations, as well as some smaller businesses, only take applications online. Does that mean you shouldn’t pound the pavement for a job? Not necessarily. You never know when a visit to an employer could result in meeting someone who will take your resume or have a conversation with you. This strategy works best for restaurants, shops, and smaller, locally owned businesses, but it could work for factory or warehouse jobs or, on a long shot, other types of employment. A good strategy is to call the business first and inquire about employment. Ask if you can drop off a resume, or if you should visit to fill out an application or to talk to a manager.
Before you reach out to any business, find out everything you can about it. Review the website, social media pages, and news articles so you’ll be well-informed for any conversation that you might encounter.
Job Networking Groups
In many cities, networking groups exist for job seekers. They may be connected with churches, community centers, and professional associations. Some are job specific, such as the Association for Talent Development Special Interest Groups, and you may pay a fee to join. Other groups welcome all job hunters, as well as job listings from employers in the area.
Most of these groups will have a posting system online or paper postings of jobs for review. The meeting may involve an informational presentation related to job skills or may just focus on opportunities available. The golden nugget is found when one person expresses their job search goal and another has a matched opening to announce. This may happen during a formal meeting or during a networking period, so always make the most of your conversations.
Professional Networking and Personal Connections
Conferences, workshops, training sessions, college classes, and many other events allow an opportunity for professional networking. Let others know that you are job hunting. An instructor, fellow attendee, or classmate may provide a job lead for you.
Also, don’t hesitate to use your personal connections. Let’s say your uncle is a salesperson who visits various companies for his job. Maybe he’s talking to a purchasing agent who tells him that the business is getting ready to hire a new quality assurance specialist. If your uncle doesn’t know that you’re job hunting in the quality assurance field, you’re missing out on an opportunity.
Inform everyone you know that you’re job hunting. Family, friends, and community members often have information on their employer’s hiring status. If you are already employed and don’t want your employer to know, spread the word more carefully. It can be done as long as you stay out work-related circles and tell others about your situation with your current employer.
When you are referred to a job opening, ask the referring person if you can mention their name when contacting the employer. Using a name recognized by the employer can give you a step up on the next applicant. Notify the referring person that you used their name. Follow up by making contact.
Networking is extremely valuable to the job hunter. Another search method is using a professional resource to find a job, which we’ll cover in the next lesson.
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