Creating and developing your network: A step towards your dream job
Either a future young graduate or a job-seeker, you’ve sent dozens of mails that remain unanswered, and have been faced several times with rejection. As the angst becomes palpable, you begin to desperately ask yourself if anybody’s ever going to recruit you, one day or another… However, did you know that 70% of you find jobs thanks to their networks? No need to panic, we’ll explain how to use them to find the job of your dreams: simple and efficient!
Before telling you more, let's make things clear. Networking implies backing, which implies ‘I wasn’t really recruited for my capabilities’ or ‘I cheated’. No! By using your network, we mean mobilising resources in order to find the good contact, at the right moment, which will provide a possible stepping stone to access the job that suits you best.
‘I’m off networking a bit with some Alumni.’ Whether you’ve heard this sentence or not, you’re now going to have to make it your own. Networking is the art of building a network of overall professional relationships, generally during real or virtual meetings, both formal or informal. More specifically, the ‘Alumni’ network enlists the whole of the graduates of your school/university. They are randomly found in business and engineering schools, but also more and more in universities and other institutions.
But why should one use their network, and specifically their Alumni network?
80% of job offers aren’t shared publicly and it’s often less restrictive for a recruiter to mobilise his network and rely on word-to-mouth to find applicants quickly. It is said that people who have been recommended beforehand are recruited 55% faster than people who’ve used the traditional application on a website.
2) To be honest, school graduates are always (more or less secretly) glad to share their experiences and to take under their wing a newcomer in the working life. You’ve had the same teachers, the same benches, the same pubs… Before you’ve even met, you’ve already got some common grounds, and that can only work in your favour! Of course, the efficiency of an alumni network is randomly based on the schools, depending both on the number of students it includes and on the budget devoted to it.
And now, how to develop your network efficiently?
You are now convinced of the benefits of not entering the jungle of work alone! Below, you’ll find a few general recommendations, as well as advices to be used specifically for LinkedIn or Networking.
4 key words to remember:
Pro-activeness: Nobody ever saw a recruiter knocking on the door of their flat to offer them a job. Not only should you plan ahead, but you should also get a move on and persevere.
Boldness: Dare talking face-to-face or on the phone, which is far more efficient than sending an e-mail. However, be bold wisely: it’s not a matter of contacting the CEO of every company you’re interested by, but the most functional contact that will be able to help you efficiently.
Reputation: And above all, ‘e-reputation’. Maybe it’s time to do a little spring cleaning on your Facebook account and to do a Google research for your name in order to care of typos.
Expertise: You might not have a lot of experience, but you know your field: show it. Remember to update your profiles on social networks with relevant data on your competences. Also, carry on keeping track of the news in your favourite area.
7 approaches to adopt:
1) Rally your relatives: Without asking your grandma to give out flyers on the market place, it’s always useful to have your relatives aware and ready to recommend you. Think of gleaning information from other students who have already been recruited. You may also seek the help of some teachers in whom you trust.
2) Become a member of the Alumni association
3) Join your school’s Alumni group on the social networks: Your Alumni network is quite probably listed under LinkedIn, for example. Join it at once in order to begin a more targeted search (see below).
4) Choose the right social networks: Beyond LinkedIn and Viadeo, there are many other networks specialised in job-seeking, some of them specifically dedicated for students and young graduates (JobTeaser being one of them, for example!), others specialised in a line of business.
5) Attend your school’s events: Conferences and workshops are excellent opportunities to learn, but also to meet the right people. Go for it and take part as an organiser. It would be a great opportunity to deal and exchange data directly with the contributors.
6) Attend events/afterwork networking: Whether they’re organised by your school with alumni or outside the school setting, they are goldmine to boost your job-seeking as well as your motivation!
7) Attend business trade shows: There, recruiters will be practically brought to you on a plate! Participate to job-dating or speed networking, which allows you to present your incentives to the companies and to establish a first contact.
Use LinkedIn (with or without Premium) to develop your own professional network.
According to the Ipsos Institute, at least 9 minutes a day spent on social networks would be enough to further your career! How could one take full advantage of these 9 minutes?
By updating your profile for it to reflect your more relevant experiences. Furthermore, choose a professional picture as well as a catchy and specific title (forget about ‘New graduate looking for a job’).
Do a targeted pre-search: Target from the beginning the most relevant profiles for you (by location, area of focus, company, etc.). Keep in mind that an alumnus working in your dream company is an open door for you, even though he or she doesn’t fill in your dream function!
Plan an informal meeting: Once you’ve selected the profiles, send to each one of them a short and personalized InMail expressing your interest for their path and you wish to meet them. Be careful, it’s a question of getting your foot in the door, not thrusting it, asking for immediate recruiting!
Prepare the meeting (by phone or face-to-face): devise your pitch and your questions, and stalk those people! That is to say, find out as much as you can on their job position, the company in which they work, their potential publications, the last articles they have shared, etc.
Act professional, open-minded and flexible on your big day: Interest yourself to their path: their educational background, the main challenges they’ve dealt with, the incentives and difficulties related to his current job position, etc. You can also ask for advice about the best ways to enter this sector, the mistakes you should avoid committing… Finally, it’s possible to end by asking them to direct you towards the people they consider being most relevant for you.
Keep in touch: Of course, don’t forget to send a thank you note after your meeting. And don’t hesitate to regularly resume contact, either to mention current events you’ve previously discussed or give your opinion on a book you were advised to read, etc. Also keep in mind that a network develops according to the reciprocity principle! Therefore, offer introducing someone to somebody else, or sending recommendations yourself.
Don’t forget whether you do fully spend 9 minutes a day or not, constancy and regularity are your best friends in this race for a job. Don’t stick to a single person; take contact with several alumni or other professionals.
Networking at a Professional Event
Not only does managing your on-line network improve your chances of being recruited, managing it face-to-face actually allows you to double them! Here is some extra advice for those of you who have difficulties networking:
Prepare yourself, prepare for the event: Here too, preparation is already crucial part of networking, which shouldn’t be neglected. Once you’ve chosen your event/exhibition/party, get acquainted with its contributors and the people who attract your interest. Then, gather as much information as you can on them, their company and their line of business. This will allow you to come up with some ‘interesting questions’ to ask them. As was formerly mentioned, be ready to deliver your presentation pitch, as well as to clearly state your area of interest, your assets, your goals, and what you’re looking for, in a subtle and tactful way (‘I love your company, and it just so happens that I’m great at marketing, so how about signing permanent contract?’ is an approach which obviously has very little chance of succeeding).
Be a little ahead of time on your big day to spot your main contact people and to have the time to approach them face-to-face. Offer your business card and other information if needed (you’re not supposed to hand out your CV like a flyer). Stay a bit after the end of the event: who knows, those lingering about will probably be more determined to help you, or even invite you to other events!
Keep in touch: A little follow-up e-mail or InMail to remind them who you are and to thank them.
Written by JobTeaser