Everything outside of searching and applying for jobs online and attending job fairs could be considered “non-traditional.” The common term for this approach is “networking,” and it is a term that scares many people, especially those of us who are not naturally outgoing and extroverted. The good news for “shy types” is that becoming an engaging person in networking is possible! For those of you that love to talk with people, this strategy is right up your alley.
Networking is all about increasing your visibility and communicating your value to potential employers. Your focus should be on gathering information and referrals to potential contacts that may offer additional advice and guidance. It is NOT about asking people if their company is currently hiring or if they know of any other employment positions available elsewhere.
You must be selective as to which people you choose to network with because you can only network with so many people in a given week. This means your networking efforts must be targeted (unless you’re okay with job hunting for a very long time).
Advantages of networking include:
- Meeting with actual “decision makers” in an organization and not HR (unless your goal is to work in HR)
- Meeting with people who are happy to meet you and refer you to other contacts upon your request
- Tapping into the 65% - 85% of the job market that is never advertised
- Less competition
To explore effective networking strategies go to the Networking section.
Managing Your Job Search
The key to running an effective job search campaign is to achieve a balance between the "Searching" and "Knocking" aspects of job hunting. This is achieved with a little bit of planning. Patience will also serve you well. Job hunting always takes longer than you think it will or want it to.
At times, job searching can be a very frustrating process and it can take a toll on your self image and confidence if you aren’t careful! If you go into the process knowing this, and are prepared for what that means, you won’t be as surprised when you don’t get a call back from every employer you’ve sent a résumé to.
Balance: To maximize your options, feel free to spend part of your time applying for jobs online and attending job fairs. But also plan to spend some time working on becoming more visible to employers through a variety of networking strategies.
Because up to 35% of jobs you would likely be interested in are advertised positions, does it make sense to spend 100% of your time applying for these positions? Of course not! If you can devote roughly 1/3 of your time to focusing on applying for jobs online and the other 2/3 of your time focusing your efforts on networking, then you will achieve a healthy balance in searching between the traditional and non-traditional job markets.
Planning: How do you achieve such balance? – Through planning. First, you must be realistic about how many hours per week you are willing to spend job hunting. If you are unemployed, “hire yourself” to find your next job. Consider job hunting to be your full-time job until you find employment.
Plan to spend about 15 hours applying for jobs online and attending job fairs during your “40 hour work week.” The other 25 hours should be dedicated to increasing your visibility through networking. You should try to focus your primary networking and research efforts during “standard working hours,” Monday through Friday. You can apply for jobs online during the evenings and on weekends from home.
Set a Goal: How many networking meetings will you have each week? – Be realistic. Even if you can only manage to speak to just one person a week, do it. Your job search probably won’t move as quickly as if you were able to meet with 3 to 5 people a week, but it is a step forward. If you can manage to meet with one person a day (5 people per week), you will find that your job search will build in momentum and start to move very quickly. Your goal each week should be to set up a specific number of meeting for the following week.
How Long Does a Typical Job Search Take? To find a full-time professional position related to your major, give yourself 2-3 months of devoting your full time on your search to land the kind of position you want. It may happen sooner than that; it may take longer. Typically, most people are able to secure a good career-related position with 90 days of focused efforts.
Give Yourself a Break: Once you have reached your goal of setting up meetings for the following week, take a break. Relax – it is important to look at a job search as a marathon, not a sprint. Take the time to do something fun and take your mind off of the job search; it will be there when you return. Being refreshed and rested will allow you to be much more productive than if you were stressed or “burned out.”
Get Organized: Lastly, set up a personal system in which you can keep track of interviews and networking meetings you have made and record contact information and notes for all the people you will add to your network during this process.
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