Looking for a job? The internet is only one way to search, and not the best one. Read about the most affective job search strategy- networking- and how to do it.
Wait a minute, you’re thinking… Everyone knows we live in the internet age and job hunting has become synonymous with hotjobs.com, monster.com, careerbuilder.com, isn’t that THE way to find a job?!? Well, contrary to the high tech advertisements, the internet has merely taken ye olde New York Times classifieds and coded them into HTML (computer format). Anyone could have done it (in fact, the New York Times did it themselves too). While millions of recruiters do make use of these sites to add postings, let me let you in on a not-so-little secret. The vast majority of human resources professionals prefer referrals. In fact, most companies offer incentives to encourage their employees to refer new recruits, so the referees like it too. This isn’t just conjecture; According to “The Harvard Business School Guide to Finding Your Next Job” an estimated 65 to 70 percent of jobs are found through networking. The percentage is even greater for higher-level positions.
If this conjures up bad images of cigar filled all-boys clubs, unfortunately, you are partially correct. One of the downsides of this form of recruiting is that it replicates the current workforce and generally, does not allow for new, diverse employees. Still, if you seek a job, and not a mini-socio-economic revolution, keep reading. If you do seek a mini-socio-economic revolution, perhaps you may seek employment at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (www.eeoc.gov).
What is Networking?
So, when can you finally remove those job search sites from your “Favorites”? Not yet. Networking should supplement your current job search repertoire, not replace it. If my sudden switch to the more official word scares you, don’t worry. If you are reading this, you’re probably Jewish and if you’re Jewish, you’ve probably heard of “schmoozing” and already know of hundreds of places to do it. You never thought Aunt Faigy’s accountant’s wife’s job suggestion had potential? Think again. You don’t know ’till you try it. The key words: try it, try it again and try it some more. This means expanding your current socializing schedule. Now that sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Where to Shmooze
Currently, you probably consider shul and simchas your main schmoozing spots. Proper social etiquette states that you should not conduct full scale networking sessions in these situations. However, do make it known you are looking and let any suggestions come to you.
Better settings include professional organizations and volunteering opportunities. If you do not have much experience in your current profession and therefore do not know which organizations to join, find a mentor (in itself, an act of networking), and/or do some internet and library research. Most of these organizations do charge a fee nominal to working folk, enormous in the eyes of the unemployed. If you can find a way, pay the annual fee. Even if you do not find your job directly through this source, it will enhance your resume and interviews. As far as volunteering opportunities, here you are in luck. Jewish Organizations dominate the Non-for-Profit world. Especially considering our minority status, Jews have always made it a priority to found and continue foundations and organizations to help others in zillions of ways. Jewish philanthropists have made inroads in many arenas. Pay attention to that bulletin board in your shul lobby. Some of the largest organizations include UJA and Hadassah but you can find organizations on regional and national levels, in all fields from healthcare to the arts, technological to religious. Here again, the library and internet, as well as friends’ and family’s suggestions can lead you in the right direction.
How to Network
Once you finally know where and when, now, you need to know how. Most people find it intimidating to walk into a room full of strangers. Fortunately, these arenas provide more conversation topics than singles’ parties (and you don’t have to worry about spiked drinks). Walk up to someone getting a drink at the same time and introduce yourself. You may think you look awkward and foolish- but in reality you look professional and confident. Ask about the event and the organization. As the newbie,you have the advantage of not knowing a thing. Most people are all too happy to have their knowledge called into play and play the part of a mentor, if only for a little while. Have a copy of your resume with you. Warning, you do not want it to look obvious that this was your sole purpose in attending and talking to someone, yet, you want it to be easy and quick so that the person does not have to beg you for it (which, chances are, he or she would not do).
Now, you’re thinking, “I’m set!” Time to buy new suits. Well, put the Barney’s ad away just a tad bit longer. You have more work to do. Firstly, you need to repeat this process again, the more people with your resume the better the odds of landing that dream job. Try to meet at least 5 people at each event. Try to go to at least one event a month. Secondly, follow up. You may think you made a fabulous impression but your contact may not remember you. It happens. Ask for your contacts’ business cards and send off a quick e-mail stating how it was nice to meet this person and you look forward to meeting at future events. If you feel really bold, attach your resume again, just in case. Set reasonable expectations. This probably will not be your new best friend or your new boss. Still, this person may refer you to your new boss and/or may have valuable advice for your search and further down the line regarding your industry. The more contacts you make, the higher your chances get.
Another advantage to this kind of job hunt: No happily ever after syndrome. Did you really love your last job? What are the chances you would absolutely love your new job in the way portrayed in job search web site ads? As just another Joe-Schmoe-off-the-street, you begin at the bottom. However, as someone who came highly recommended from within the firm or a friend of the firm, your advantages follow you in. Your friend will provide a more realistic view of this firm and how to succeed within. This social advantage is invaluable to success at a new firm.
Basically, if you want to find a job, use your mouth more than your monitor. While not as easy as taking naps on the couch, networking beats classified search in both short and long term results.