Career experts estimate that there is large number of job openings that never make it on the job boards or news circulars but are successfully filled by word of mouth. These jobs are known as ‘The hidden job market’. The only way to access this valuable resource is to be ‘in the loop’ of the word of mouth circles, which is more commonly known as networking. In general the hidden job market tends to be rich with the kind of jobs that get you a corner office and a secretary, but even with this knowledge most job seekers fail to use networking to its full potential.
The perception of networking is that it’s hitting the phones and making yourself unpopular – and it can be – but it doesn’t have to be. Networking works best when the contact is natural and varied, so something as simple as ‘working the room’ at social and business functions can garner people that can help you tap into the hidden job market.
If you want a job, learn to strike up a conversation and talk to everyone – you never know where that golden contact is. It may not even be that contact that is golden, it may be his friend or co-worker that he introduces you too. It also may not be a person, it may be the inside knowledge you need to find the job that leads to success. Talk to family, friends, co-workers, industry contacts, trade shows and neighbors, not forgetting former co-workers, bosses or even teachers. There are no rules to who should be in your network.
If your want your network to succeed put in the necessary effort to make it work well. All it takes is time, but can land you the perfect job. Follow these steps to help you make the most of your networking skills.
1: Get organized. Make a database of names and contact details. Prioritize it if it is long, and break into industries or job positions if it helps you narrow down to your search.
2: Stay in contact. Choose the best medium for the contact, not you. If it’s a phone call – call! Don’t forget emails, or even holiday cards if it is a family friend or member. You want them to remember you when you ask for help.
3: Set a goal. How many new contacts do you want to make each week? Who do you want to contact? Why? Then fulfil your goals.
4: Get your resume in tip top form. The first thing they’ll ask for is a resume. Have more than one resume tailored to your strengths, or to the industry. Your contact won’t want to wait four hours whilst you write one up, if they want your resume they want it NOW and you’ll need to supply it to keep the momentum going.
5: Consider setting up an informal interview. The purpose is to get information, not a job, but this information will be invaluable as will the bond you build with an industry insider. Make sure you have a plan about what you want to know.
6: Never take your network for granted. Let them know how you are doing and what help you need. People love to help. Use that power in your job search. One of the biggest mistakes people make in using their network is not asking for help. A few contacts may fail when you are at this point, but they will be in the minority. If they do fail – they couldn’t help you anyway.
All it takes is time and motivation to tap into the rich resource of the hidden job market, so make the most of it. By organizing your time and your approach, you could soon be in that corner office with a little help from your friends.