You already know that most of the best jobs are found through word of mouth, right? Co-workers, friends and acquaintances sharing information -- this is how 70-80% of all people get hired, according to many estimates.
I’ve regularly written here about how networking can help you gain access to this “hidden” job market and meet decision makers who can hire you.
But today I want to share a nifty twist on networking that worked during the last recession, and can give your job search a boost in this economy, too.
This week’s job search tip, from Faith Rothberg, Vice President for Strategic Development at CollegeRecruiter.com (www.collegerecruiter.com), will help anyone who went to college.
Kevin: “Let’s jump right in. What’s the networking ‘twist’ that worked so well for you and how can it help others find a job right now?”
Faith: “In a nutshell, I called the career office at the University of Michigan, where I got my MBA, and asked them for a list of Business School alumni here in Minnesota that I could contact for advice on getting a job. I made some phone calls, did a few interviews and got hired by a prominent bank in Minneapolis. And I did this during the last recession, in 1991, when there were threats of war, just like now.”
Kevin: “So, you networked your way to a new job by calling people you already had an affinity with -- they went to the same school as you. That must have made it easy to start a conversation, right? You already had something in common.”
Faith: “Yes. One week after I called my career office for help, a list of about 20 names arrived in the mail. I started calling them during my lunch hour or before work.”
Kevin: “What did you ask them and what happened?”
Faith: “I asked, ‘Can I meet you for coffee and a quick informational interview?’ I ended up with about two in-person interviews and three other people gave me names to call at other companies.”
Kevin: “Describe the informational interviews. What did you do?”
Faith: “I asked questions about their jobs and engaged them on why they liked what they did. I tried to let them talk about themselves, which puts anyone at east. Then I handed them my resume and asked, ‘Where would a person like me fit into your organization?’”
Kevin: “How long did it take to find a job?”
Faith: “About 90 days. I kept calling new names as I got them, saying, ‘So-and-so suggested I call you for an informational interview.’ Sometimes I was more direct and said, ‘I heard about your opening for a ____ from my interview with so-and-so and I’d like to discuss your needs. When can I come and see you?’”
Kevin: “What’s your final bit of advice to job hunters in this economy?”
Faith: “Talk to anybody you know. Friends, family, friends of friends -- anyone who will let you use their name when contacting companies you want to work for. Because you never know -- it could be your friend’s dad who makes the hiring decision.”
Action Step: No matter how long ago you graduated, put your college career office to work for you. When you network with other alumni, you instantly have something in common, which builds rapport and can smooth the way toward finding a decision maker who can hire you!