“I can’t tell you the number of ads I’ve responded to, and nothing. I haven’t gotten one response!” she wailed. “What am I doing wrong?”
“Sweet pea, you might as well drive down the street and throw your resumes out the window,” I said. “These days, more than 60 percent of jobs are found through networking for information. I can’t think of a better way to find a job in this crazy economy.”
I suggested that she begin by listing her contacts. Her contacts could include:
- Past employers, coworkers, direct reports, suppliers, and salespeople
- Her parents’ friends and her friends’ parents
- Family members and neighbors
- Community contacts in groups such as social clubs, sports teams, and civic organizations
- Professional organizations
- Former professors and alumni groups
“Once you compile your list, commit to contacting a set number of people each week and ask for a brief appointment. Most clients set a goal of e-mailing five people a week.”
I reminded her that the primary objective when networking for information is to learn. As such, her first duty is to listen. I recommended that she ask these questions:
- How did you get started in the field?
- What attributes, skills, and education do you think someone needs to be successful in your field?
- What advice can you give me about my job search?
- Would you keep an eye out for me for any appropriate openings?
- Who else would you recommend that I talk to?
“During the course of the interview, you’ll want to share your unique selling proposition and no more than three criteria from your ideal work environment list. Your ideal work environment is an environment that encourages you to be your best. You may need to adjust your unique selling proposition depending on the person’s responses,” I advised.
Finally, I suggested sending a thank-you note to each person. In that note, she should reinforce her unique selling proposition and provide a few details about the position she’s seeking. She should also ask for the person’s help in identifying suitable openings and referring her to other people to talk with.
Finally, I suggested following up with referrals right away, within twenty-four hours if possible. “Stay in touch with your expanded network throughout your job search. A phone call, e-mail, or handwritten note every six to eight weeks should do it. When you do land a job, send a thank-you note to anyone who helped you. In it, express your desire to return the favor.”
Vivian looked overwhelmed. I saw that I’d given her too much information all at once. Smiling, I said, “Let’s take it one step at a time beginning with your list. Are you ready?”