A topic on networking during a job search wouldn't be complete without discussing traditional networking techniques:
- Family, friends, neighbors. Some of my best leads have come from my scout families. I lead a group of Cub Scouts, and each of the parents of my boys have sent me at least one lead. One terrific mom, named Karen, sent me a dozen! One neighbor got me an informational interview with his firm (more on that in a moment).
- Vendors. Companies from which you've purchased products or services are likely to talk to people like you at other companies. Ask them to listen for opportunities and think of you when they hear something. Since they talk to your peers, they're very likely to find out when a company has a vacancy. Keep in touch with them periodically.
- Recruiters. They definitely know about unlisted jobs. Remember that employers pay the recruiting fee; there's no cost to you. Use them!
- Informational interviews. In this kind of interview, you're finding out about the company and who your contact there might know, even if they aren't hiring.
- Activities to initiate networking. Lunch, dinner, formal or informal meeting, church group, social clubs, alumni, golf matchI've done all of these kinds of activities, and they help to expand your network to reach more people who can help you in your search.
I've done this kind of interview a couple of times, and it works beautifully! It's a no-pressure interview; because your interviewers aren't sizing you up for a job, they're likely to be open and candid about how they see the job market in their field. You can ask detailed information about their company, the traits they look for in the people they hire, and so on. The intention of this meeting is to ask them if there is anyone the interviewer knows whom you should meet. Ask if you can use the interviewer's name when contacting the person. Hopefully, interviewers will either give you some contacts or forward your résumé with their endorsement. If you've impressed them along the way, they're also going to think of you when they need their next employee. Isn't that a nice side benefit?