Without a doubt, networking is the number one job search strategy and the best way to learn about open positions. Often, jobs are not posted but rather promoted through personal connections. As a professional, you need to develop relationships with contacts in and outside your field. However, the main objective of networking is not to find a job but to build a pool of resources of people who are able to assist you throughout your entire career. Networks can help you with the daily work you perform in your career, which can ultimately assist you with moving up the career ladder.
Career Center Senior Assistant Director Maureen Roach advises that one begin the networking process by making a list of one’s entire professional contacts as if starting a business, and then consider the following:
- 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, layoffs are common in a tough market, and most professionals will seek to advance in their positions or fields at some point in their career and will seek out new opportunities to do so. The more people you know, the more likely you may hear about leads.
- Develop a list of broad “connectors,” those who open doors to other people who might be a hiring authority or job lead provider, including obvious and not so obvious contacts through family, friends, former and fellow employees, former and fellow students and teachers, career advisors, headhunters and recruiters. Also, tap into fellow members of professional associations.
- Meet with career advisors and advocates who serve as mentors, 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 using 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 seek and screen candidates.
- Participate in Career Center networking opportunities including upcoming career fairs. Use Hire A Redbird to identify employer specifically seeking Illinois State talent.
- 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 or branding experience, volunteer to develop a marketing campaign for a local clothing drive.
- Attend business socials, join a club in your area, and use alumni networks.
- Be sure to check right away to see who you know in the company once you have a job opportunity you’re interested in. You never know who might be able to give your candidacy a boost.