Woman having a meeting with someone in her network.

One of the most powerful tools you have available to you during your job search is your network. A strong network enables you to have access and sway with job opportunities you wouldn’t normally have. It’s is also important to remember that the strength of your connections is entirely dependent on you. The amount of work you put into developing and checking in with your network will decide how powerful it is when you begin to look for a job. We’ll begin by discussing who you can consider in your network, and then make some suggestions about how you can put it to work for you!

Realize Who Is In Your Network

To begin, you have to realize who your network is. If you already have a profile on LinkedIn, it should make the process much easier. Typically, a network consists of:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Alumni
  • Associates
  • Past Coworkers

These people are all people you trust, and have mutual respect with. If not, they shouldn’t be a part of it. Having someone in your network means that you support each other, since you are likely in theirs. If you are going to call upon them to assist you with your job search, you should be prepared to do the same for them if they ever ask. Now that you are aware of who is included in your network, we can discuss how you can make use of it!

Let Your Network Know You Are Looking

As we stated earlier, it’s important that you trust your network, especially so if you are searching confidentially while still employed. One of the best ways to find a job through your network is simply by letting them know you are looking. Before you begin spreading the word, make sure you have a good idea of what you are looking for. Do you want to stay in the same field with the same responsibilities? For instance, if you are in IT do you want to shift from help desk to a managerial role? You should already have the answers to these questions before you let your network know. If someone is seriously considering helping you, they will likely want more information.

If you want to inform someone that you don’t typically see, consider asking them to sit down for a career related discussion, or to ask them for advice. People are always happy to share their insight, so those types of conversations won’t typically be turned down, unless they are very busy. Having a casual career related conversation offers you a unique opportunity. You can let them know that you are searching for a new job, and also ask for their suggestions. This helps you gain some advice, and now that person may even try to find a job for you as well! It’s a win-win scenario. However, what if you want to be somewhat more direct? Now we’ll talk about targeting companies where you know someone.

Target Companies Within Your Network

If you’re planning out your job search, it’s usually a good idea to put together a list of companies you are targeting. This list helps you keep an eye out for new opportunities at that company. However, if you are utilizing your network in your job search, it serves another purpose. First, start by doing some research into where those within your network work. Compare that to your list of target companies, and see if there is any overlap. If you have a contact at one of your target companies, that is great news! Now, you can have them advocate for you within the company. Keep in mind this doesn’t just have to be limited to your target companies. If you know someone who works somewhere you’d like to, just follow the same process!

First, see if there are any positions that you are interested for at that company. If so, draft an e-mail to your contact. Tell them that you are interested in that position, and would appreciate it if they could forward your resume along to the hiring manager. Wait to see what they say! Usually they will let you know to either apply yourself, or to hang tight since they have sent along your resume. This reference gives you a much better chance over just applying. Having someone within the company speak on your behalf makes your candidacy much more enticing than a resume sent in online.

Never Neglect Your Network

Although these are only two methods you can use to harness your network, they will both greatly increase your chances of getting hired. Being able to utilize your network during your job search is a great tool. However, you have to remember something very important. You can’t check out on your network once you have a job. Keep in touch with those people, and check in constantly, even after you are employed. Keeping your network ‘active’ is very important. If you don’t do that, they will be much less inclined to help you when the time comes.