I often hear from people who think that networking means spending lots of time discussing their job search with family and friends. Then when they have exhausted their contacts’ patience and still don’t have a job, they wonder why they haven’t been able to crack this hidden job market everybody alludes to.
The hidden job market does exist and is significant since 80% or more of jobs are filled outside of job postings and recruiters. But the hidden job market is not about employers hiring friends and family. Your BFF’s won’t get you a job. The reality is that the winning leads are more likely to be 3 or 4 connections removed. So when you network, in order to tap that hidden market, you need to move out from your comfort zone. If your friends could help you, they would have already. For career changers, friends are especially dangerous b/c they probably have a set way of seeing who you are and what you do and therefore wouldn’t be able to help, however well-intentioned.
Instead, focus on strangers and build rapport by getting to know their companies, their business problems and how you can solve them. In this way, it’s still very much about who and what you know. The best candidates, especially in competitive markets, get to know the decision-makers and are perceived as experts and problem-solvers.
So do this quick check-up on your networking:
Are the people in your immediate network actually hiring for jobs you want?
If so, keep deepening these connections. If not, get to the hiring managers;
Do you know what you want specifically enough (company, department, job title) that you can find the hiring managers and can research the issues they care about?
If so, approach them. If not, do this research;
Are you meeting wit hiring managers on a regular basis – 5 or more meetings per week for a full-time search?
Job search is a numbers game and if you’re not matching quality with quantity your search will lag or stall;
If you are not doing this level of targeted, high-impact networking, what is stopping you?
Get a job search buddy, a mentor or a coach, depending on the level of support you need, but get the help that will move you forward.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and others) of the upcoming “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” due out March 2010; Bascom Hill Books. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others. Caroline is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, a life coach (www.thinkasinc.com) and a columnist for CNBC.com, Conde Nast’s Portfolio.com, Vault.com, Wetfeet.com and TheGlassHammer.com.
Filed under: career coaching, Hidden Job Market, job search, networking