Did you know that even with a spotless résumé, you can still end up at the bottom of the candidate pool? There’s a group ahead of you, a group that’s gone the extra step in their search. Who am I talking about? The networkers.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is more than a poignant cliché, especially in today’s market. A good number of the people interviewing for the job you know you’re qualified for found a way to “warm up” their application. And if they don’t land this job, there will be other interviews because they already have people selling for them—if even just a few words. It could be as simple as “This person has been active on our Facebook page,” or “I’ve engaged with this person on Facebook/Twitter. Their application is worth taking a looking at.”
Referral candidates may not always get interviewed, but they at least get an optimistic look because someone within the company recommended them, or allowed them to use their name while applying. That’s when the spotless résumé gets to do the talking. And if it does its job, the candidate gets to do the talking next.
Networking doesn’t just mean popping up at every job fair. You also have social media platforms at your disposal that make it easy to connect with people at companies you’d like to work for, or industries you’d like to work in. Here are a few simple ways to step up your social networking game.
Effective networking on LinkedIn is more than sending out invites. It’s about joining groups, engaging in conversation and reaching out to people with relevant backgrounds and saying, “I checked out your page and was impressed with your background. I’m also in X field and would love to have you in my network.”
If your approach is on point, the person you reach out to, or members of the group you’re commenting in, will visit your profile. If they’re equally impressed at what they see, they may keep you in mind if an opening comes up, or be more likely to reply when you reach out to them. You’ll also hear about jobs that you may not have had access to otherwise. And guess what you get to write on the application when you see “How did you hear about this position?”
A real person.
This may not seem like a big deal, but as a recruiter, I spend a little more time on applications where candidates indicate a current employee referred them.
Twitter is a gold mine of networking opportunity. Brands (companies) understand the power of social networking. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a company that doesn’t have a Twitter presence. Many companies and recruiters are using Twitter to promote open jobs through hashtags like #NowHiring and #jobs. Additionally, there’s a real person behind the Twitter account who you can engage with, whether it’s asking questions or saying “Hey, I love what you guys do!” You never know how close that person sits to human resources.
Twitter is also an opportunity to find and engage with people working in your desired field. Once you’ve built a rapport, it’s much easier to send a broadcast about your search and get a response from someone who can point you in the right direction or refer you for a job. I’ve seen it happen.
On Facebook, you can follow a brand’s page and post comments when they ask questions or solicit feedback. Again, you never know who’s behind the account or watching fan engagement. Recruiters are more frequently tapping into their company’s social media fan base to find great applicants.
You also have the opportunity to broadcast to your friends. Facebook doesn’t have a 140-character limit like Twitter, so you can post a more comprehensive status update about what you’re looking for. If you’ve been positive in your messages and offered help to others (also part of networking), you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to reciprocate.
Once you’re active on these platforms, you can use a tool like JackalopeJobs.com, which allows you to search jobs and see what people in your network are connected to the companies that show up. The more active you are in your networks, the more connections you have, the higher the chance of finding a referral, the more likely you are to have your application put in the “special care” folder.
If you’re not taking advantage of these tools, you’re not maximizing your networking efforts. Whether you’re looking for a job today or in a year, it’s time to put yourself out there. People can’t help you if they don’t know who you are!
Rich Jones is a Pathfinder for Professionals with a knack for helping the wayward determine the next steps of their careers. He’s also a certified professional in Human Resources with for-profit and non-profit recruiting experience. Check Rich out on his career blog I Am Rich Jones.