This is the one, the job you’ve been looking for. You’ve spent more time proofreading your resume than it actually took to fill out the application. Your cover letter has the perfect blend of humor, professionalism, and self-salesmanship, and your resume – the piece de resistance – couldn’t be better tailored to the job description. A month later, with several unreturned voicemails and a little LinkedIn stalking, you discover that someone far less qualified landed the position. Their secret? All signs point to a better network.
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The reality can be infuriating to some. But when you can begin to accept the truth that your network is often more important than your resume, you might start making some real progress in your job hunt. Think about it: when they’re getting hundreds of applications to the same position, it’s extremely hard to stand out with a handful of words.
Everyone’s reading the same advice blogs, getting similar degrees, and applying the same “tricks” to their applications. The idea of having an edge on paper is almost oxymoronic. Everyone from your mom to the mailman has probably told you the same thing: “If you can just get in for that interview, you’ll definitely stand out.” But, how do you land that interview?
The answer is having someone on the inside. And you don’t need your dad to have a Harvard buddy to make that happen either. Networking isn’t dumb luck – it’s a skill that anyone can develop if they’re willing to handle some bumps and bruises along the way. Here are some ideas to get you going:
Let’s start online. LinkedIn Premium, while a tad on the expensive side, is the perfect start for building up your network. Before you upgrade, start by building up your personal reach. Add old friends from college, and grade school, and past jobs. Yes, you can even add your parents’ friends. Once you’ve got a solid base (at least a few hundred), try out the 30-day free trial of LinkedIn Premium.
Networking is about developing relationships. Believe it or not, people want to be helpful, but they need to know how to go about doing that. Create a list of 10 jobs that you want to apply to, and one by one, search for employees of each company. Find out how you may be connected to those employees (friend of a friend, former colleague of your parent’s friend), and mark down people that could potentially introduce you.
Then, just ask. Write them a nice email – though keep it short and sweet – and feel out if they’d be willing to CC you on an email. From there, you can ask that employee if they have any tips for the hiring process, or if you could come in to meet them for an informational interview. Cast a wide enough net, and you’re sure to make some great connections.
Go For Broke
Give yourself a time limit online, and see how far you can get. Thirty days is more than enough to make several real-life connections that you can continue to leverage offline. All sorts of people will come out of the woodwork who are willing to meet, chat, and even connect you to people at the jobs you actually want.
The beauty of that Premium trial period is that you’ll also be able to reach out to folks outside of your network – that means talent recruiters, hiring managers, and even those aforementioned employees. Be smart, be bold, and try to stand out with a thoughtful email.
Hopefully those 30 days will give you enough training to go out and kick some butt at real networking events. Find events online, put on your best business clothes, and go rock your way to your next dream job.
Tell Us What You Think
What has been your experience with networking? We want to hear from you! Tell us about it in the comments below or join the discussion on Twitter.