There are job search tools and job search strategies to explore when you are looking for your next opportunity. You're probably thinking of utilizing recruiters or the internet (job boards, company websites). Make no mistake, these outlets can be rewarding areas to concentrate time and effort. However, a more valuable and intuitive tool is right in front of you. Your personal network!
These people are your best resources to contact during your job search. They're current/former colleagues, friends and family members. Here's why they can be incredibly valuable:
Personal contacts are more willing to go out of their way to help you with your job hunt because of your existing relationship or connection. You really mean something to somebody else. You're more than a name and a face. These helpers will often refer you to their employers or someone within their own networks.
Close connections can offer valuable inside information on a company’s work environment or company culture, compensation and benefits, performance evaluations and other details. You're able to form a sample perspective of an organization beyond job descriptions and marketing materials.
Referrals Open Doors
Your personal network will help open doors for you. Potential employers will often speak with you as a professional courtesy if you are referred by a mutual or shared connection. You're granted a sense of exclusive access that otherwise may not exist as an unknown or random candidate. In effect, you're moving to the front of the line in the screening process.
Seal of Approval
Your close connections are willing to vouch for what type of employee you are relating to past performance, work ethic, personality, and other traits. These are all difficult variables for someone to assess while interviewing you as a random applicant. Here, you benefit from your contacts' credibility - seals of approval or social proof - because they endorse your abilities and character. These signals may create positive impressions which certainly help in the hiring consideration criteria.
Think Long-term Success
Professional cohorts are more than just conduits for job prospects. They may be potential mentors or partners in the future. These individuals can offer valuable advice on a wide range of career development like interview tips, career paths/wisdom, skill-building, and road blocks/pit falls. Don't think of your network as stepping stones to potential leads/opportunities. They do more than just introduce you to others.
What You Can Do
Grow Your Circles
Keep expanding your personal and professional circles with quality individuals and companies. While I never recommend turning anyone away, it will become evident as to where you should allocate more attention and focus. Attend networking events and meetups specific to your industry/expertise. Include visits to broader organizations tied to a local community or common theme.
You need to give more than you take. Answer the call when one of your own needs help. Be proactive in sharing great insights. Be available to dedicate time to someone else's search. Most importantly, serve as a valuable asset. You'll inevitably see your reputation (and network) grow by being a dependable ally.
Need help with your job search? Read these resources: