Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In the Middle of a Job Search? Networking Pays Off!

Is hunting for a job really all about who you know? No, not all the time, but it sure does help.

In my role as a sourcing & diversity specialist, I often find myself stressing to job seekers how important it is to make appropriate connections that will assist in their job search. If you’re searching, I’d typically advise that, if you’re not already a member, it’s a good idea to join networks like LinkedIn or Facebook. Look for pages or groups devoted to the companies you’re interested in working with. On American Family’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages, I spend much of my time sharing information about our company, culture, position types, tasks/qualifications and other nice-to-know stuff, such as benefits and flexible work schedules.

So, you’ve done your research via social media. Will that help you get a job? Obviously, your skills and qualifications for the role need to be a good match, as well as your cultural fit with the organization and company values. Beyond that, who lands the ever-so-desired offer? Now, more than ever, landing an interview and then an offer is a competitive business. It’s a time when a job posting can produce upwards of 100 to 200 applicants within a few days or a week (not all qualified, of course). The way to rise to the top is NETWORKING. Know your skills and know how to network. I’ve witnessed this more times than I can count -- it really does produce job offers.

So, how does networking really work? The key to networking is finding the right people to connect with and then sharing some brief information about who you are, what you can do and what your interests are, in hopes that you can create a memorable impression. Finding commonalities with people will help them remember you and even cause them to recommend you to someone else – and that someone else may be just the person you need to know. I see this happen every day as I’m making connections for job seekers with our recruiters (staffing specialists), who in turn work with our managers, who hire for positions within the company. I’ve seen several job offers extended and accepted as a result of connections made through our LinkedIn Careers group and inquiries over the American Family Careers Facebook page, for example.

I know there are so many variables that come into play regarding career opportunities, from the type of position you want, whether or not you’d like to relocate, and most importantly, how the timing works out. Networking can help you spread the word about the type of work you want, where and when. And you never really know when it might pay off for you.

Here are a few of my favorite networking tips. When having a conversation with someone:
• Be brief. Avoid too much small talk and make your points.
• Set an agenda for your conversation, if only for yourself. You’ll stay on point.
• Keep yourself in front of your connections. Don’t forget to thank people for meeting with you.
• Search online groups or discussions to find industry professionals you might meet.
• Pay it forward – help others and they will help you.

Lisa Beauclaire is a sourcing and diversity specialist with American Family Insurance who also uses social media extensively to connect with potential job candidates. American Family is a Fortune 500 company specializing in property, casualty and life insurance with operations in 19 states. Connect with AmFam via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and The Family Room Career Blog.

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