Today’s job market requires you to think more creatively about your job search strategies. Gone are the days when employees had two or three offers sitting on the table to evaluate. It is an employers market and they have the upper-hand when it comes to recruiting talent. Today, plenty of people looking for work, but not enough jobs exist for those seeking employment.
The number one strategy that people use to land jobs is searching job websites. However, research reveals that less than 5 percent of people land a job through this resource. I work with clients’ everyday on job search strategies and can personally attest that job websites are ineffective. Of all the people you know, how many have been successful in getting a job from a job website? If you are like most of us, you don’t know too many people. The intent of this article is not to bad mouth job websites because they serve a good purpose, which is to inform the public of job postings.
Many companies post their jobs on the big job sites because it is company policy,government requirement and/or they haven’t found the right talent through the referral pool. These companies receive hundreds of applications online for each posting. It’s overwhelming to scan through hundreds of resumes. For this reason, employers purchase technology that can automatically scan resumes and link them to open job postings without a human getting involved.
Most employers find employees through referrals. These companies put the word out through employees, colleagues, and friends. Many companies have found social networking to be quite effective too. Networking tools such as like LinkedIn and social networking sites like Facebook are becoming more and more instrumental to the recruiting process.
If you are looking for a job, having an established network is more important now than in the past. You need to identify your contacts, whether they are friends, family, business colleagues, old school buds and reconnect with them using LinkedIn, for example.Once connected, you also need to learn how to reach out to these people to seek their assistance in your job search. Asking for help is an intimidating process and most people shy away from it. Of course you are nervous. Even the most skilled networker gets nervous when starting to work a crowd. I, for one, have always had a difficult time walking into a crowded room and introducing myself to others. So what did I do to overcome my anxiety? Nothing! Instead, I just didn’t go to networking events. I avoided bars and social activities where I needed to meet people. My job search did not move forward.
The biggest obstacle for me at networking events tended to be the cliquish groups of regulars that formed into little groups of 3-5 people. Were these people networking or were they just old friends talking? I suspect that many of these folks were friends and were not actually networking. They were protecting themselves from the anxiety of networking by hanging out with people they know. It appears almost everyone else is feeling the same way as I did, they are nervous to meet new people.
If you don’t break the ice, who will? You will. Once you realize that everyone is feeling the same way and in the same boat as you, the pressure to perform is reduced significantly. So, you need to step up. Here are some suggestions on how to engage yourself to an individual or small group.
- Be prepared. Have some business cards with your contact information (for safety, do not include your home address).
- Think about your icebreaker…your pickup line as they call it in the dating world.
- Walk up and Introduce yourself, “Hi, I’m first/lastname and I hope you don’t mind that I interrupted”
- Look for something interesting to discuss, such as cool shoes, bright tie, unique purse, or iPhone. Walk up and make your comment, “How do you like you phone?” “I like your shoes, where did you get them?” Remember, most people like to talk about themselves. Give them the chance to talk first.
- Walk up, silently eaves drop and jump into the conversation, “I heard you talking about…I would like to know more about that.”
- Make sure you take the opportunity to tell them your story or elevator pitch and something interesting about yourself. Your story should make you memorable, build perception, sell value, separate you from the completion and present perceived quality. The story should answer 3 questions, 1) What do you do now? 2) What can you bring to the organization? 3) What are you seeking and what value will you add?
- Be prepared to hand out your business card. When networking, you should only hand out your business card to those that you spent time with. You want to be remembered by the people you talk to.
Networking doesn’t have to be scary. Just ease yourself into it and you will be successful. Most jobs are filled through networking contacts, so spread the word and get yourself out there!