In our last conversation we discussed the “Hidden Job Market” and the fact that somewhere around 75% of jobs are never advertised and are instead landed through personal referrals. Predictably the question people had was: “So, how do you find these hidden jobs?” A great question and one that I’d like to help you with now.
The first thing that you need to know is that networking is not random. The idea that you can randomly talk to a bunch of strangers over a period of time and land the job of your dreams is widely held…and dead wrong. We call it the Disney ending…a beautiful dream that just isn’t true. True networking relies on two ideas:
1) Job search is a research project and a search for information about the job market around you.
2) To effectively network, start with people who are WILLING to help you with your job search and ask them to get you to people that are ABLE to help you with your job search.
In true networking we engage people who are incredibly WILLING to help us first even though they do not have direct authority to hire us or knowledge of our industry…because that is not the goal of meeting with them. The goal of meeting with them is to clearly describe what we are looking for in our next position and asking them to introduce us to anyone involved in that industry (at any level). Sound too indirect for you? Face it: You have already tried all of the direct methods of job search and are still unemployed, How about we try another way?
You need to ask yourself this question: “Why haven’t these WILLING people been helping me up to now?” My guess is that it is one (or all) of three reasons.
1) They don’t know you are unemployed or looking for a new job. In my work the most common cause for being unemployed for an extended period is ego. People don’t want to tell others that they lost their job because it is embarrassing. They also don’t want to ask for help. While they ran to tell these same people every time they got a raise or promotion, telling them that they lost their job makes them fear that they will be judged. The value of starting our networking with people who already think the world of you personally and professionally is that we know that they have judged you long ago…and judged you as good enough. If you don’t tell them about your job search you have stolen their opportunity to help you.
2) They have not described the type of person that they are looking to talk with in a way that people can understand. When we start with people WILLING to help us, the biggest downside is that they likely don’t know our industry or job type. Describing what you are looking for in your next position in terms that they can understand is critical for getting a useful introduction. Test out your messaging on a few people you know and ask them to describe the people or organizations that come to their mind. If the list they give you is in alignment with who and what you are looking for in your next job you have an effective message. If not, revamp your message until your friends can pass this “audit” step. Remember, it’s not what you say, but what people hear that matters.
3) People believe that they only way they can help you is with a direct referral to an open job or a person with hiring authority. I’m guessing that if someone has asked you for help on their job search in the past you immediately scanned your “mental Rolodex” for important people or open jobs to refer them to. Under pressure and unable to come up with names on the spot you might have replied:” We’ll, I don’t know of any open jobs at the moment but if I hear of one I’ll be sure to let you know.” How many times have you heard that during your search? What people are really saying here is that they don’t know how to help you…which is an opportunity.
Instead I’d like for you to start using this language:
“I’m currently doing a research project to make sure that my next job is a great fit for me and the organization. The best way you can help me is to introduce me to anyone who works in this type of position or industry so I can get their advice.” See the difference? Instead of dropping your job search problem in their lap to solve you ask people who are already WILLING to help you to introduce you to someone that “lives in the world that you want to live in next.”
More importantly all you want from that person is their advice, guidance and feedback. There is no pressure for a job because you are still genuinely
in the research phase of your search.
Check your networking efforts against all three of these. I think that once you teach people close to you that they can help you best with an introduction to someone they already know they will be much more WILLING to become actively engaged in your search….and it takes all the pressure off of them to find a job for you.
As I have said many times: “People want to help you with your job search but they don’t know how; you need to teach them how”. If you make it easy and comfortable for your friends and former peers to help you they will run to you. You would do the same for them wouldn’t you?
“Be humble, be sincere, ask for help…”