In Never Eat Alone, a book we recently discussed as part of the Vaco quarterly book club, author Keith Ferrazzi declares, “I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business—and life—skill sets you’ll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like.”
Day in and day out, I’ve found that to be true. As a recruiter, I’m constantly doing my best to create lasting and meaningful relationships with both clients and candidates. But, as Keith points out, “Careers— in every imaginable field— work the same.” Your professional network is one of the most important tools you have in your tool belt, especially when it comes to finding a job. You should absolutely be leveraging your network while you job search so you can maximize opportunity. Here’s how:
Network like your life depends on it
If you are actively seeking a job, do your best to maximize your free time. My rule of thumb is the number “one” rule: Have one coffee, lunch, phone call, etc. with someone in your network every day, or at least every other day. While you’re catching up, don’t forget to ask about their job and if their company is hiring. You never know where your next opportunity might come from, and this will ensure you a foot in the door if you decide to apply there.
Find a connection before hitting that “Submit” button
Because today’s market is so competitive, you shouldn’t blind submit your resume to a job posting. Job postings receive an overwhelming number of applicants, and it’s so easy for an application to get lost in the resume stack. If you see something you’re interested in, do your research on the company and see if someone in your network is connected there. (LinkedIn is a great tool for this!) Once you find a connection, reach out and see if he/she can connect you with the hiring manager.
Partner with a recruiter
You might be the most well-connected person in the city, but a recruiter can still expand your network even further. Recruiters know so. many. people. around town at companies you may not have any connections at, so using a recruiter opens you up to more job opportunities. Don’t put your hand in too many cookie jars, though. I’d recommend partnering with a maximum of two recruiting firms because otherwise, you run the risk of your resume being submitted all over town, which could backfire.
One of my main takeaways from Never Eat Alone is that authentic relationship-building is not only helpful but necessary. Whether you’re currently on a job search, or not, it’s important to start nurturing those relationships now. You never know when that person you met briefly for drinks will turn into a genuine friend. And genuine friends are a lot more likely to help you out when you decide you’re ready to take that next step in your career journey.