Many of us think of our personal networks as just that — personal.
Our personal network consists of our friends, family, and close work colleagues (the ones you’d hang out with after work). While they provide great social relief and a sense of connection and meaning, we don’t really think of how they can help us progress in our careers.
However, personal connections such as friends and family members can actually be really valuable for developing your career, and in particular for finding new job opportunities.
People just like yourself are recommended by a friend for a new job almost every day, so if you’re in the market for a career change right now, speaking with your personal network about it can be a powerful opportunity.
In this article, we’re going to discuss exactly how to use your personal network to land a job, using helpful tips and tricks that have landed positions for many job seekers before you.
Your personal network is the group of people you interact with on a social, personal basis. It typically includes:
Work friends (as distinct from the other colleagues you have at work that you might not consider a “friend” per se)
Connections on social media
In contrast, a professional network includes current and former colleagues and other professionals in your industry who you’ve met along the way.
Quite simply, people in your personal network may be able to recommend you for a job opening at their company and put in a good word with their boss while doing so.
Consider the fact that the typical job hunt looks something like this:
You jump on a job board and start browsing for jobs
You apply for as many as you find suitable, crafting customized cover letters as you go
While this is the most common approach (and the one you’ll most likely take to land a new job), it has a couple of drawbacks.
First, you’re applying for jobs at companies that don’t know who you are or have any insight into your work ethic or personality.
This isn’t a problem in and of itself (it’s simply how the hiring game works). Still, when a hiring manager receives a recommendation from someone in their company that they already know and trust, they’re more likely to view that application (yours) positively and call you in for an interview.
Sales and marketing professionals know the power of referrals well. It’s why a sales agent will give you their business card and ask you to recommend them to someone in your network, and it's why marketers use customer testimonials and reviews on their website: it builds trust.
Secondly, it’s true that not all open positions are actually advertised on job boards. Many are, yes, but by using your personal network to help you land a job, you’re opening yourself up to opportunities that weren’t otherwise on the table (and therefore aren’t available for others to apply for).
These are just a few examples of common situations where your personal network might be able to help you land a new job:
A friend knows of an open position at their workplace and recommends you to the hiring manager.
A family member is leaving their job and recommends to their manager that you’d be a great fit to fill their spot.
A friend has recently been promoted to a management position and is hiring to grow their team.
So now we understand why personal networks are important to the job-hunting process. But what can you do to use your personal connections to help land a job?
Follow these five steps!
Start by making a list of your various networks, for example:
People with whom you went to high school or attended a training class
Who do you know? Where do they work? Is there any overlap with the employers or kinds of positions you are pursuing?
Maybe you have a friend that works at an #Amazon Warehouse or McDonald’s, and you’ve heard good things about those companies and would like to learn more.
At this point, it’s best to keep the list as broad as possible. You never know who’ll be a valuable person to reach out to.
Review your connections list and identify individuals who would be good contacts to call or email.
You want to avoid sending an impersonal mass email to everyone on your email contact list because you don’t want to risk making anyone feel like you’re using them.
It is more appropriate to reach out individually and let people know that you are looking for work and would love to speak with them to learn more about their current position or employer or, if you are considering a career change, to get some advice or recommendations.
While some people might not feel comfortable advertising their current work situation online or in person, know you are not alone — many people are facing unemployment right now.
Having conversations about it can be a good way to find opportunities.
For instance, if a friend or neighbor knows that you happen to be looking for work at a fast-food restaurant, if they hear of something, they will be likely to contact you if they see a relevant job posting or learn of a new opening at their own company.
Informational interviews are meetings — either online or in-person — where you have the chance to learn a bit more about a potential employer, even if there isn’t a current opening at that time.
You can request informational interviews by asking a friend to connect you with someone at their workplace or by reaching out through email to someone that may hold a job similar to what you might be looking for.
Informational interviews can help you learn more about a company or a career path and even inform you about opportunities you hadn’t previously considered. You can gain tips and insider advice about applying for positions in the future and establish valuable professional contacts that will expand your network going forward.
If you have a profile on Jobcase, you can leverage that to your advantage by posting in your profile description that you are currently looking for opportunities in a particular industry. Jobcase members are always helping other members.
Consider also posting on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter that you’re open to work opportunities — you might be surprised by the response!
As the old adage goes, “it takes a village,” and this applies to job searching too! If you let your networks know that you are looking for work, there will be a payoff, even if it isn’t immediate.
The best part: by reestablishing connections within your network, you will have the opportunity to return the favor for someone else in the future.
Looking for work can be tough.
Even if you have a great personal network to help recommend you for new positions, it can be time-consuming and require a lot of effort.
We've created a comprehensive resource center for job seekers to help you put your best foot forward when applying for new jobs.
Check out the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center today and fast-track your job hunt.