Using your trusted network to find a job

When we last heard from our anonymous correspondent, she was about to be made redundant from a government KM role. She has now been offered a new job in the private sector. Here she explains why you should be prepared to take advantage of social networking tools - and your trusted contacts.

Thinking back to the start of my working career in the 1980s, jobs were often 'acquired' through the smoky bar or golf course 'network'. Simple and effective, perhaps, but certainly not accessible to all.

21st century networking looks and feels very different, especially when it comes to job hunting.  Without question, there is plenty of online assistance.  Recruitment agencies have their own apps and offer lots of advice on completing resumes and preparing for job interviews.  And of course LinkedIn and Twitter make opportunites (and people!) more discoverable and accessible.  And while there is no doubt that technology has made a positive impact on the networking process, I do believe the human touch can never be underestimated.  This is what I have discovered during my own recent job search journey.

Where is the vacancy?

I think we all realise now that the appointment sections of major newspapers are more or less obsolete. And while websites allow you to set up email alerts, it is really easy to miss the perfect job opportunity. So let's hear it for the virtual network.  I found about one vacancy because a colleague spotted it on LinkedIn and sent me the link. Yes I may well have seen it on one of my alerts, but what a difference it makes when someone has made the effort and thought about you.  And as job alerts fill my inbox, it doesn't take me a second to forward an email to a contact, if I spot something interesting.

Applying for the job - researching the organisation

Just as networking has moved on since the 1980s, so too has the job application process. No longer can you send out a 'one size fits all' resume and hope it hits the mark. Now the application needs to demonstrate some insights about the organisation you are applying to.

A friend of mine recently attended a conference and unsurprisingly, picked up an assortment of business cards from the people he met. I casually mentioned that I had an interview for X organisation. Within minutes he handed over a business card from the conference - somebody he met worked for the same company. Two phone calls later, I found out some valuable information that helped me to focus my application appropriately. And I got an interview!

Researching the interviewers

Google the names and check their Linkedin profiles. That's simple, but also see if, or how closely, you are connected. I discovered I had two degrees of separation from an interviewer. One email and phone call later through my contact, I gained some valuable insights about the interviewers - what made them tick and what they really wanted from someone in the role.

Is the job the right one?

So after all that, do I want the job if it's offered? Again the human connection matters - due diligence is a must. What are the people really like, what's really going on in the company? I can read the website and the glossy annual reports. But it was a conversation with a business contact who knew the company well, that made the difference.

And now I am a few weeks away from starting a new role. At each point in the job search process I called upon my network.

Knowledge sharing at its best

My learning from this experience? Never be afraid to ask. Everyone I spoke to was willing to help or make the onward connections. And in return, I will do the same. I see it as knowledge sharing at its best.

Image courtesy of 10ch via Flickr.