Utilising your network when job hunting

Create, build and utilise your personal and professional network to support your job hunting activities

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Three in five workers in the UK are considering a change in careers following the global health crisis. Whether you are looking for career advancement, searching for a completely new role, or want to further your experience in a different organisation, networking is essential. If you feel uncomfortable at the thought of this, there’s really no need to be. After all, you already network on a daily basis by communicating and building relationships with those around you. During a job search, harness that experience in making connections to find a role that is perfect for you.

Tapping into the hidden job market

As much as 70% of jobs are not advertised and are filled by word of mouth or recommendations. That means the majority of roles will not be visible when you embark on your search – and this is especially true with more senior positions. Accessing this hidden job market requires more effort and patience than the usual method of hunting online. However, through effective networking, you can gain access to far better opportunities as well as building valuable relationships for your future career.

Building your network

Before you start networking, it’s important to consider what you actually want. Leaving things too vague sends a message that you don’t have a clear goal. It’s important for people you connect with to understand what you’re looking for. Next, think about who you want and need to network with. Begin with existing connections. These can be former or current co-workers who you would trust for a reference, as well as friends that will vouch for you. People you already know are key at this stage. You have developed relationships with them, and they have networks of their own that they can put you in touch with.

Now, you can work on expanding your network. This is where all-important ‘weak ties’ come in. Strong ties are those in your inner circle, whereas weak ties are newer and less established. These acquaintances and new relationships are essential in creating a rich, diverse network that provides a fresh perspective and unexpected opportunities. 

How to network effectively

Successful networking relies on developing relationships – it’s not about being pushy or aggressive to get ahead. When approaching people, keep these points in mind:

  • Be genuine
    Of course, it’s necessary to show your best self when networking. However, it’s equally important to present the real you. This way, you will develop lasting, authentic relationships. People in your network will understand who you really are, and therefore better understand your goals.
  • Ask for advice
    It’s tempting to dive straight into asking for a job. This is unlikely to lead to success, as it puts unwanted pressure on the other person. Instead, reach out by asking for advice and insights. They may be able to help you out and if not, you haven’t burned any bridges by making them feel uncomfortable.
  • Be helpful
    You won’t be the only person in your network looking for a job. Networking is give-and-take, so when someone asks you for advice, take the time to help. Your support will be remembered, strengthening the relationship. Plus, they’ll be more likely to recommend you in the future.
  • Communicate with clarity
    Before you get in touch with people, make sure you have a clear goal in mind. Whether you want some industry insight, an introduction to someone in a company, or a referral, specify this when reaching out to people. Also, update your resume and online profiles to clearly reflect your experience so far as well as your career goals.

Prune your network

Over time you will have connected with a diverse range of people depending on which sectors and companies you have worked with. Look through your network and question what value do each of these connections offer to you? You may find that through various career moves by yourself and the other connection that there is no longer a reason to stay connected. Having a smaller, ‘smarter’ network may be more effective in your job search. 

Remember, networking is all about building relationships. By communicating with transparency, consideration, and patience, you can successfully tap into the hidden job market. This will not only maximise your networking opportunities now, but well into the future.

LHH career support

LHH is the UK's largest provider of outplacement services and we have been helping candidates for over 50 years successfully transition in their careers. For more information on how LHH can help you please contact us.

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