Without a doubt, networking is the number one job search strategy and the best way to learn about jobs. These days, the majority of jobs are never posted. As a professional, you should develop a substantial network, even of contacts outside of your own field. However, the main objective of networking isn’t to find a job. In fact, the primary reason to network is to make professional connections to build a pool of people resources to assist you throughout your entire career. Networks can expedite your job search and also assist you with moving up the career ladder.
Career Center Senior Assistant Director Maureen Roach advises professionals to begin the networking process by making a list of all of one’s professional contacts as if starting a business, and then consider the following:
- If you’re hunting for a job, don’t keep your job search to yourself. There is no need to hide the fact that you are looking for a job, or to be ashamed of your circumstance. There are many people out of work, and layoffs are common in a tough market. Let everyone know you are looking for a job. The more people who know, the better off you will be.
- Develop a broad list of “connectors” who open doors to other people who might be hiring authorities or job lead providers, including obvious and not so obvious contacts through family, friends, former fellow employees, former fellow students and teachers, career advisors, headhunters and recruiters; tap into professional associations in your field.
- Meet with career mentors and advocates who serve to motivate, give candid advice about job searching, and provide recommendations. Once you get the job, find a sponsor within the organization to help promote your work throughout the company.
- Join online communities utilizing social networking sites. LinkedIn is designed to help make connections for job seekers. In fact, many employers have a social media presence and use social networks to screen job candidates.
- Participate in Career Center networking opportunities including the upcoming Alumni Career Fair. Use Experience database for Illinois State employers.
- Talk with community service organizations and various local organizations for opportunities to connect and gain experience that may be valuable to an employer. For example, if you need marketing/branding experience, volunteer to develop a marketing campaign for a local clothing drive. Attend business socials. Join a job club in your area. Utilize corporate and college alumni networks.
- Once you have a job opportunity you’re interested in, be sure to check right away to see who you know at the company. You never know who might be able to give your candidacy a boost.
Learn more about networking by visiting the Career Center, or call (309) 438-2200.