Personal & Business Network – Who is your network? For example:
- Company acquaintances
- Business associates & co-workers
- Former employers
- Former work associates
- Hobby/club associates
- Professional/technical associations
- Social clubs
- Business clubs
- Civic groups
- Educational associates
- Sporting groups
- Training/industry groups
- Insurance agents
- Product/trade groups
- Industry association groups
- Investment advisors
- CPA firms
- Professional associates
- College alumni
- Church members
- Service clubs
- Volunteer groups
- Political contacts
- Business owners
- Financial associates
- Market research firms
- Advertising contacts
Next, you will develop your “Target Companies” list , or a list of organizations where you would want to work. The purpose of developing a target company list is to provide you with potential employers suitable to your skills, interests, experience, and capabilities. In developing this list, be sure you first identify what specific businesses or industries you want to pursue. Consider companies that you are familiar with, including general market knowledge or employers where friends, acquaintances and former co-workers are employed.
You can research companies from the following sources:
- Business Journal Book of Lists (all industries)
- Gale’s List of Non-Profits (non-profit)
- Gale’s Book of Associations (all industries)
- Spiral Book (Marketing/Communication)
- Professional, technical, industrial trade publications – Industry
- Chamber of Commerce directory – great for geographic search
Example: After reviewing source material, you “target” several companies (based on your earlier assessments) that you determine could be compatible companies to work for. Now you have to do some additional research to determine who to “target” for your initial contact.
- Check out the company’s website and see if there is available information about employment
- If you work in a specific area, e.g. marketing, search for any marketing contacts
- Do “Google” research: “marketing director at XYZ Company”
- Search Linked In for individual contacts at companies
- Email your personal and business contacts – does anyone have a contact at XYZ Company?
- If you cannot locate names of contacts in HR or a specific area, you can call the company and inquire
Once you have a contact at your target company, you can enter this information into your tracking spreadsheet. Often your initial contact at an organization may not be the “right” contact; however, that contact can guide you to the correct person. Capture all of that information in your spreadsheet for “referral” purposes: “Judy Smith suggested that I forward my resume to you…” As a bonus, after your search is complete you will have a record of everyone who has helped you, so you can say thanks and acknowledge their assistance after you have “landed”.
A few things to remember prior to reaching out to any contact:
- Regardless of who your contact is, focus your aims and your requests. Don't throw your job search into someone else's lap and expect that person to know how to help you.
- Be specific, even to the extent of making appointments with people to talk about your job search for guidance and advice.
- Strive for a concrete result from each conversation. Don't make the all-too-common error of letting the conversation drift into vague advice: ''I need help getting a job …” Request specific help, such as the name of anyone that they can refer you to give additional information, guidance or contacts. Set up a meeting time when you can review your resume for feedback, and ultimately ask for names of companies and contacts that might be hiring. It’s important for you to politely direct the conversation and let the person know exactly what he or she can do for you. The more explicit you are, the more help you'll be given. It might be helpful to have a reminder script to keep you focused.
- The most important information you can get from people is the names of other people you can contact. Very often the second circle of contacts - or referrals - is the most useful to you in your job hunt. Make it clear to your contacts that you’re not asking only for the names of people who can hire you, you’re also looking for people who can help you in general. Ask them for the name of anyone who can be of some assistance, such as people who work at the companies that interest you, or who work in a position similar to the one you want, or who work in the general industry. Someone who isn't in a hiring position can often lead you to someone who is.
There are dozens of temporary help agencies and recruiters. The key is to find the right agency for you. Some considerations: which agencies typically place people with your skills and background, your general geographic location, and whose clients are your “target” companies. Here is how to find the best agency for you:
- Referrals – Ask friends and co-workers for their top picks
- Yellow Pages – Contact several agencies to determine which ones meet your criteria
- Internet Guides/Search – Several local guides list agencies and often rate them based on user surveys
- Contact target companies’ HR or purchasing – inquire about which agencies they use. Add these contacts to your spreadsheet.
Before You Start “Working” and Reaching Out to Your Network…
- Get organized. Ensure that all of your “network” contacts and target employers are entered into a spreadsheet, database or tracking sheet.
Sample Tracking Sheet
How Do I Know Him/Her
| Bill Patterson
|| A Big Company
|| Pastor introduced us
|| Met over coffee to discuss resume
| Jennifer Watson
|| ABC Company
|| Found on company website
|| Asked that I submit a resume online
| Barbara Hughes
|| A Big Company
|| Works with Bill Patterson
|| Talked about marketing opportunities with A Big Company
- Prepare a “script” for referrals - to follow when reaching out to referrals from your network.
- Prepare a “script” for “cold calls” - when reaching out to contacts at target employers.
- Keep focused on your job, career interests, goals and objectives when reaching out to others for advice, assistance or additional contacts.
- Consider how your skills match the market - Be aware of your skills, experience and talents match the current market needs.
- Be knowledgeable about the current job market.
- Be conversant on and knowledgeable about what is happening in your profession, career field, and related fields. Most importantly, know what is going on in business and in the world today.
- Polish all your skills (communication, presentation, and job) to meet job market needs and stay ahead of your competition.
- Evaluate and recalibrate your search activities for effectiveness (matching job market need and results) as your search proceeds.