Networking

6 Simple Ways To Take The Pain Out of Career Networking

iStockphoto.com |  Rawpixel

iStockphoto.com | Rawpixel

Searching for a job is hard, and one of the more ominous obstacles between you and your dream job is networking. Many of us believe networking is tricky, time-consuming, and painful. Where do you start?

Start small. Tell your best friends you’re looking for a new job. Now, other people know and will either keep you in mind for job opportunities or hold you accountable (wasn’t that was easy?). Networking is like a garden, tend it a little at a time and everything will bloom.

Here are six simple ways to take the pain out of career networking.

1.     Be active on LinkedIn.  Showing up is half the battle. Participating in LinkedIn, by having a good profile and contributing to the online conversation, can accelerate the job search, and help build and maintain professional relationships over the long term. If you post content that builds your brand, you are more visible and more likely to make more – and potentially helpful – connections; great content will drive people to your profile. Not to mention, if you are searching for an “in” at a particular company, you can leverage your network, and your network’s network, to connect with someone at that company.

2.     Maintain contact with people you know. You don’t have to manage a hundred email chains on a daily basis. Little things like a birthday message, or a heartfelt congratulations on a promotion or work anniversary, can keep a professional relationship open. If you are active on LinkedIn, like or comment on business-oriented posts. Share. Once a month, go to lunch with an important contact you wouldn’t otherwise see. If you’re in a position to so, be generous with professional referrals. Nobody has ever complained that someone sent business his or her way.

3.     Be active in professional associations. If you’re a project manager, PMI is the go-to-group. For human resources professionals, it’s SHRM. Depending upon your industry, there is likely a professional organization in your local area you can join whose whole mission is to provide a space for people working in the same field to network. You can take on leadership roles, make new connections, and foster new opportunities.

4.     Attend professional conferences. I know, I know. It’s a great way to meet professionals in your field, but you’re scared of the cost. It’s true that attending a conference often equals a substantial financial outlay. However, think of it as an investment in your future. A professional conference can have a stellar return. Since it’s like speed dating for job seekers. You meet a lot of people at once, hear about a lot of job opportunities at once, and may learn about career paths you had never considered. It’s not unheard of for job seekers to leave conferences with new jobs, or to establish connections that lead to new opportunities down the road.

5.     Call on old friends. You may be surprised how a reunion with old friends can pay off in the present. Next to family, old friends may rise up to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t hesitate to offer it.

6.     Manage your social networks with care. The best way to mitigate any unforeseen fallout from your social networks (not just LinkedIn, but also Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) is to always maintain a professional image, which is a tall order when it’s a social network. Short of that nuclear option, exercise caution when making posts and consider adding people with care.

These are some simple tips to get you going. The rest is up to your magnetic personality!


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Real Job Hunting and Interview Advice – From Real Recruiters

iStockphoto.com (Rawpixel)

iStockphoto.com (Rawpixel)

Nobody comes in contact with more job seekers on a day-to-day basis than recruiters. It doesn't matter if they work inside an employer's Human Resources department, or if they're employed by a staffing agency – they're going to meet, screen, and evaluate more candidates than anyone else on the planet.

I took an informal poll of HR leaders and professional recruiters. I asked them the following:

"What is the one piece of advice you would offer to job seekers as they apply to or interview for opportunities?"

Learn from their feedback! Here's their advice – raw and unfiltered (in no particular order):

ON APPLYING TO JOBS:

  • I would definitely advise job seekers to apply to a position for which they have the skills and experience required – that is the job they are are looking for, and not to apply just because of the company or level (of the position).
  • Way back when I was not a recruiter, I wish I had known to use a professional email address when applying. I had a nickname as an email address, and it was one of the reasons why I didn't get any call backs.
  • My advice would be to have good phone and email etiquette. Be excited, use spell check, do not be too informal, but show your personality and follow up quickly.
  • Research the company, the company’s products, and the industry.  I'm surprised sometimes how some people don’t bother to do so.
  • Persistence, persistence, persistence. Always follow up if possible, and network.
  • During the transition process, while applying for jobs, use free training resources to keep yourself abreast of the workforce.

ON INTERVIEWING:

  • Practice for the interview. Be able to answer questions and ask questions through your resume.
  • Have a mock interview done for you.
  • Candidates should bring a copy of their resume (even though I send it to the hiring manager, they like to see the candidate come prepared).
  • Dress professionally – a suit for men, and a dress, skirt, or pants for women.
  • Research your interviewer.
  • Research the company and division you are interviewing with, get familiar with what they do.
  • Come with questions to ask the interviewer about the role.
  • Always always be your authentic self. Otherwise you and the company risk being mismatched and therefore resulting in turnover.
  • Of course, research the company before the interview, so you’re able to speak to it.
  • Dress appropriately, there's nothing worse than being distracted from someone’s’ skills because of their presentation.
  • I would tell candidates to try to tailor their experience to the scope of the role they are applying for. I used to tell candidates if you are applying for a position that is more analytical it’s not necessarily helpful to go into great detail about the camp counselor role you held 5 years ago, unless your role as a counselor had some sort of statistical analysis responsibilities or something.
  • One thing I’ve noticed that shoots candidates in the foot is going in with a self-deprecating attitude. Starting off with, “I’ve never done X,” or “I don’t have experience in X,” always seems to leave the hiring leaders with the notion that because they may not have 1 or 2 skills, that they are not suitable for the role.
  • I would tell them to make sure they do some research about the company. It is a pet peeve of mine when I speak to an applicant and they have no idea what the company does.
  • Prepare for the interview. Research all about the position, the company, and the job description.
  • Be curious…. about everything.
  • My advice to candidates would be to be prepared for that interview!  Go back to basics and really prepare – you only get one chance to pass the gatekeeper!
  • Be excited about the opportunity for which you are interviewing. A passionate candidate who shows sincere ambition to want to work for the company and do a good job in the position rates far above a more qualified applicant who just knows how to say the right answers.
  • Candidates should remember that the interview is a two-way process. They should research the company and prepare questions in advance that will help them ascertain whether the company is a good cultural fit for them.
  • They should find their unique selling point. Everybody is 'organized, hardworking, motivated, creative, flexible' these days. Gets very boring!
  • Confidence. It is difficult to interview people who are nervous or second doubt themselves. If the applicant wants to answer only "yes or no" to the questions I ask, I can imagine how the communication with customers will go.
  • Be excited about the opportunity for which you are interviewing. A passionate candidate who shows sincere ambition to want to work for the company and do a good job in the position rates far above a more qualified application who just knows how to say the right answers.
  • Be confident. The interview goes both ways, you should also interview the organization to make sure it is the right fit for you.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

5 Great Ways To Use LinkedIn to Network Your Way Into a Job

Networking has changed over the years. It used be that the only way to network your way into a job was to do a lot hands-on networking - as in, pressing the flesh. In other words, you had to go to an event, work the room, and hand out business cards.

Nothing replaces human contact, those networking events still matter, because you get the chance to meet people in person and make a positive impression. Keep in mind, interviews still (usually) happen in person, and most major decisions are made with face-to-face contact.

But LinkedIn is an amazing tool. It's changed the networking game. In many ways, it's democratized networking, making it easy to make meaningful connections. For the job seeker, it's a boon, because it gives visibility into key contacts as potential employers. 

Here are 5 great ways you can use LinkedIn to network your way into a job!

  1. Grow your network, strategically. This is a long-term strategy. Add people with whom you've had contact, whether it be in person, by phone, or by email. The more people your contacts know, the more people you'll be able to access in their network. By the way, LinkedIn is crawling with recruiters - they're good connections to have.
  2. Build your brand. Your LinkedIn page is your platform, and an opportunity to present yourself in a positive light. Develop a clean, crisp, and professional profile for yourself, and obtain good, solid recommendations from former bosses and coworkers. Write blogs (LinkedIn calls them Posts) that highlight your expertise in your professional area. All recruiters I know use LinkedIn to actively search for talent. Many will check out somebody's LinkedIn profile after receiving a resume to get an idea of the person's presentation. You have full control over your profile and what's published under your name on LinkedIn, take advantage of it!
  3. Get introductions through LinkedIn. If you see that one of your connections is directly connected with a key contact at a company you'd like to reach, ask your connection for an introduction. Better yet, ask them if they have the person's email so you can reach them directly.
  4. Apply on the job boards, then reach out to a company contact via LinkedIn. Go to Indeed, Monster, or any job board, and complete the online application for a position. Then, do a search on LinkedIn for a company recruiter, HR person, or appropriate line manager, and send them an InMail letting them know you've applied to the position, you're qualified, and you're interested. Sometimes this can get you moved to the top of the resume pile; recruiters will easily get over 250 applications for an open position online, and they won't have time to review everybody. By taking this approach, you present yourself as a potential solution to their problem.
  5. Ask for informational interviews. People, by nature, like to help. Find a strategic contact at your target company through LinkedIn, then send them a note requesting an informational interview. Offer to bring your contact a cup of coffee in exchange for their time. Remember, don't ask for a job - your only mission here is to get information. If you present yourself well, you may be considered for open positions, or your contact might refer you to somebody they know for an opportunity at another company. The key here is to come loaded with great questions and a heap of modesty.

Remember, maintain every relationship as if it's critical - because it is. Don't just be a "taker"; make productive introductions on behalf of others, too. Not every connection has an immediate payoff, but you can certainly move the job search in your favor.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.