5 Tips to Network Your Way Out of Unemployment

Nancy Anderson
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The pressure of navigating through a job search when you are unemployed can be overwhelming. After spending countless hours scouring online job boards or searching through advertisements, the task can seem lonely and mundane. You can spruce up your efforts, though, by focusing on networking. Through social interaction with professionals in the field, job opportunities may just land in your lap when you least expect them.

1. Tap Into the Hidden Market

Networking is often referred to as the "hidden job market." Job seekers who focus on making connections and marketing their skills in the industry can tap into opportunities that are not advertised to the public. Although it is still beneficial to apply to positions that are advertised, it is likely that those companies are flooded with resumes. You can increase your chances of getting a job offer by building a network of other professionals who can serve as references and may even bring you job leads that haven't hit the job boards yet.

2. Attend Industry Events

Build your network of professionals by attending local industry events related to your field. Dress professionally and arm yourself with business cards to pass out to people you meet. These events offer job seekers an opportunity to carry on informal conversations yet also present themselves in a formal manner. Make small talk with the people you meet, and casually mention that you are seeking work.

3. Join Professional Organizations

Professional organizations offer benefits for job seekers that include access to special events, online industry tips and educational opportunities at conferences and seminars. Use this opportunity to meet people who are like-minded and build your knowledge of innovative practices related to your ideal position.

4. Perfect Your Pitch

As you rub elbows with professionals in the industry, don't make the mistake of having nothing to say. Create a 30-second elevator pitch that you can gradually ease into conversations at networking events. Focus on your skills related to the positions you desire, and highlight accomplishments within previous jobs. Although many job seekers worry about boasting, there is a key difference between bragging and confidently sharing your talents. Practice the pitch in front of a mirror to ensure your demeanor shows your confidence without an arrogant tone, and remember to smile and show off your personality.

5. Utilize Social Media

Job seekers seeking to rise above the challenges of unemployment must utilize multiple methods to network. Social media is one of the fastest growing ways to connect with potential employers and hiring managers. Create professional profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and post informative articles related to your field. Reach out to people who are prominent in the field as well. Use these platforms to gain an audience and brand yourself as an expert in the industry.

Networking is crucial for job seekers. Vary your strategies to expose yourself to professionals online and in person to increase your career opportunities and, ultimately, land your dream job.

Photo Courtesy of vijay kumar at Flickr.com


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Scott thanks for your comment. You could try to start your networking on LinkedIn. There you can type in what you are looking for and then go to town. You can do a search on the Internet for professional groups also. In addition, you have Facebook and Twitter plus Instagram to find professional groups. Keep checking your local paper for networking events, too. Especially now that summer is here - many groups will have networking events at outdoor venues since it stays light longer and it's warmer. What about former coworkers? Or current ones? Talk to them and ask them if they belong to any networking events or to a professional group. These events are out there - just keep digging.

  • SCOTT F.
    SCOTT F.

    Do you have any thoughts on finding networking or professional groups? I have been looking online and can't seem to find much.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Kwame thanks for the comment. It is true that you would try to network with those who are in positions that you are seeking. But don't limit your networking opportunities to just that. You never know who really has the boss's ear. Networking is a great way to get your foot in the door; to introduce to some of the movers and shakers. Always be prepared with your resume when you go to networking events, too. Of, in lieu of having to carry resumes with you, create a small business card with all of the pertinent information on it. Easier for them to carry and a good reminder of who you are. Never know - you could be the one who "knows" the right person to get a new position. best of luck.

  • Dunya Bernardon
    Dunya Bernardon

    Great info,thanks!

  • Kwame W.
    Kwame W.

    Social media is a key part to networking, but let's be honest. Gaining that job isn't necessarily about credentials and skills; it's all about who you know. Having a critical reference is more important in today's world than having a solid resume. If you want that high paying job, put yourself in a position to network with people who have access to those jobs.

  • Samuel M.
    Samuel M.

    Well said. I have realized that networking realise better results. Thanks for the update.

  • Olga g.
    Olga g.

    Thank you so much!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Hema you can email or call your professional contacts just as well as you can your personal ones. After all, that's why you cultivated these professional contacts - so that you could assist each other - learn from each other - right? So why not contact them the same way as you would personal ones?

  • Hema Zahid
    Hema Zahid

    What’s a good way to let your professional contacts know that you’re looking for a job? Unless some of your contacts are your friends, they won’t know that you are unemployed. You can probably email, call or visit your friends and family and tell them that you need a job, but how should you say that to your professional contacts?

  • Katharine M.
    Katharine M.

    The biggest lesson I've learned from networking is that you have to look at the big picture. A person may not be able to help you the very night you meet them, but if you stay in touch, they may be in a position to help you score a great job a few months down the line. Look at it as a long-term investment, not a one-shot deal.

  • Abbey Boyd
    Abbey Boyd

    Social media has become huge in networking. Almost everybody has a profile on some social media platform, so it's extremely easy to find contacts and make new networking ties. Keeping a professional profile yourself is the first step, so that others can see your personal brand, and you can tap into the connections available to you.

  • Kristen Jedrosko
    Kristen Jedrosko

    Networking is certainly very important when it comes to a job, in fact that is how I landed my first job after college. I do disagree with utilizing social media for networking, at least Facebook and Twitter. Oftentimes these websites become riddled with things on personal pages that make the job seeker appear less enticing to potential employers. I would stray away from utilizing these pages as professional pages unless they will be used strictly for professional information. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a great tool to use for networking for jobs.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Lydia thank you for that. Goes to show that networking can pay off. @Jacob try finding some connection(s) you may have to the new industry. Maybe a coworker had worked in that industry previously. Or someone you worked with in your past may now be working in that industry. Network through social media if you can. That seems to be the best way today. Look at @Lydia. She sent her resume directly to the hiring manager and she got the job - even with a hiring freeze on. As Lydia said - work on building your network and you could be the next way to say "I'm hired".

  • Jacob T.
    Jacob T.

    What is the best way to take advantage of networking to transition from one to industry to another? Employed or not, many people are in a particular industry by happenstance or necessity and could view a recent change of fortune as an opportunity to find their way to an industry they might find more enjoyable.

  • Lydia K.
    Lydia K.

    All of these are good tips to tapping the hidden job market. I was hired for a position in a company that had a hiring freeze in effect because I sent a resume to a hiring manager. As it turned out, even though the company was not hiring, someone had vacated a position that needed to be filled. I was in a professional network with the manager. We didn't know each other but he recognized my name. So the moral is not to wait for jobs to be advertised. Work on building your network instead.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Duncan don't let these strategies distract you from your goal. These are just some options to consider. Most people don't use all of them. They are just ways of connecting whether through social media, LinkedIn, MeetUp, Google+ or any of the other online "meeting" places, professional organizations, networking events and so on. You can pick and choose what best fits with your needs, finances and time constraints. Belonging to a professional organization can be costly but you will often find postings on their site that you won't find elsewhere so something to consider. Also, when you are seeking a job, you are always networking. With family and friends - at the local grocery store - any place where you have the opportunity to meet people and find a way to bring up your job search. If you don't ask someone if they know of an open position, you will never find one. But, again, you don't have to use all of these strategies - just the one(s) that fit your unique circumstances.

  • Duncan  Maranga
    Duncan Maranga

    While seeking for a job is not a walk in the park, the above strategies sound, at least to me, overwhelmingly tedious, especially if someone gets so desperate to get out of unemployment to the extent of going through all of them. Will it be fruitful for someone to pick only one or at most two of these strategies to hit the road and clinch that coveted job?

  • Jane H.
    Jane H.

    I have always been more of a traditional networker, using in-person contacts as my primary means of finding new opportunities. I felt like social media sites were more of a pastime for personal pursuits. However, I continue to see more articles like this one mention using those sites to advance one's career. Maybe it's time I give it a try as well.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Jay couldn't have said it better. Even if the contact doesn't get you a job, it could lead to a life long friendship. @William just keep your elevator in your back pocket and bring it out when it's appropriate. So true that you can't always use your elevator speech when networking. Sometimes you just have to ad lib. @Shannon so true that, when unemployed, the cost of joining a professional organization may seem extravagant but, it has been my experience that many jobs are posted on professional organization sites that are not posted anywhere else. So, maybe that initial outlay of $100 is not such a bad idea when you consider what it might bring you in return.

  • Jay Bowyer
    Jay Bowyer

    I can't agree enough about networking. It may seem like a long-winded approach in a job seeking emergency, but in reality, a little goes a long way. Make the right contacts and you not only stand a good chance of being hired sooner, but you may also create relationships that'll serve you long into the future.

  • Shannon Philpott
    Shannon Philpott

    Although there are many benefits to joining professional organizations, this can be a very expensive venture for people who are unemployed. These memberships can cost upwards of $100 annually for each organization. When money is tight, it may not be the best option.

  • William Browning
    William Browning

    How do you adapt your elevator pitch to the people you meet? Just like a resume, a 30-second speech may not fit into every person you meet at a networking event. Obviously you try to remember everyone's name and get business cards, but that doesn't help you alter your pitch based on the situations you find.

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