Building a large network is key when it comes to landing a job. And while turning to mentors or co-workers is important, reaching out to friends, family or even neighbors can also help you build network of possible job contacts, say experts.
David Sanford, executive vice president of Client Services at Winter, Wyman Companies, a Waltham, MA.-based staffing firm, recommends that job seekers reconnect with old friends or family members they're out of touch with through online networks like Facebook, LinkedIn for an instant connection. "One of the most common mistakes people make is not expanding their network wide enough," says Sanford. Here are some additional things to consider before approaching someone in your social network.
Don't Assume Only Certain People Can Help
Since many finance-related roles rely on technical expertise, it's easy to rule out potential family, friends or even acquaintances that you don't think are in positions to help. "You may think you're 18-year old babysitter can't help you find a senior finance role, but her professor, parent or another family she baby-sits for could be the connection," says Susan Strayer, a Washington D.C.-based career expert.
Stop Being Embarrassed
Admitting to close friends and family that you've been laid off or are looking to move on from your current position can be tough but there are definite benefits, says Sanford. "By sharing your circumstances with those close to you, you will find support systems and people willing to help," he says, adding that it can also help build confidence during a job search. Friends and family are also great advocates for your search because they know you best.
Prepare Your Pitch
Even though it should be less formal than something you'd say to a former manager, knowing how to concisely explain what you're looking for enables others to understand how they can help. "Have a casual, yet professional, message prepared that doesn't sound rehearsed," says Sanford. Make sure the pitch does not use industry-related jargon and is easily comprehensible for people outside of finance. Once others can actually describe what you do, they'll be more able to help you make connections.
Don't Name Drop Distant Social Connections
If your friends' cousin works with a bank where you are interviewing, using their name is not always a good idea, says Nick D'Ambrosio, managing director of Irvine, Calif.-based First Round Search. "Make sure that the person you are mentioning has a good reputation with the firm or you risk being associated with someone held in poor regard," explains D'Ambrosio who adds that it's essential to get to know their professional side before using their name.
Help Out Your Network
Even if it's a family member or friend you feel comfortable asking for a favor, giving back and helping out with their search is essential. So if a particular person is taking the time to help you meet a potential contact, make sure you also send job leads or contacts their way. "Embrace the giver's gain mindset," says Cindy Kraft, the CFO-Coach, a Tampa, Fl.-based brand expert for corporate finance executives. "Too often people network only when they need something and expect that everyone they corner would love to help them."
Show Off Your Professional Self
Just because someone knows you socially, doesn't mean that they will automatically volunteer their own professional network to help you find a new position. Instead, it's important to let friends and family learn about your professional side so they are more willing to vouch for you later down the road. Take time to discuss your accomplishments and don't be overly negative about the job search process or your current employer, says Philadelphia-based career expert Mindy Thomas, president of Thomas Consulting. "It shows you are resilient, strong and powerful in a time when it is so tough to see everyone struggling," she says.
Set Aside Time to Follow-Up
Many family members or friends won't want to spend the entire duration of dinner talking about who they know at your dream accounting firm. In order to avoid sounding overeager or take away valuable bonding time, follow up later in the week or privately speak with them about how they can help. "Try not to dominate a social setting with work or job search talk," says Sanford.
Regardless of your approach, expanding your network through family and friends can help you beat out the competition in this kind of challenging job market, say experts. Even if you've found out about a position on your own, having a personal connection may get your resume to the top of the pile. But Kraft points out that it's important to not overwhelm those in your social circle by asking for employment outright. "Most people cannot deliver a job," she says and suggests asking for simple introductions.
-- Alina Dizik
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