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How to turn your personal network into job opportunities

A Chinese proverb says that “A person who continually gives will continually gain.”

Covid has led to 10.7 million Americans being out of work. That’s a steep 6.7% unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Worse, nearly one in three cannot make rent or mortgage payments.

A job is critical during the pandemic to ensure a steady income when there’s no end in sight to political, economic and monetary uncertainties.

Here are tips for getting hired through a personal network.

A slick way to get many ‘interviews’

Studies show less than 5-10% of applicants get a face-to-face interview. Only one in four interviewees get an employment offer. 

That’s brutal and demoralizing because those stats were pre-pandemic.

The reason why it’s better to help recruiters find the best possible candidate (which likely won’t be you) is because they’ll answer your phone call, reply to an email, and even meet you for coffee (if you add enough value). 

Such interactions are the interview

Thus, you can earn continuous “interviews” with busy HR professionals by helping them get what they want. It’s more important that employers see you as a contributor who takes initiative and adds value. Rather than a nuisance who spams their inbox with a resume they won’t read. 

Join LinkedIn HR groups in your field and contribute to the conversation.

Add value when you network

In such a restrictive environment and historic recession, it’s tempting to directly ask employers for a job. You tell yourself, “Just go for it in a straightforward manner.”

The problem is that, out of desperation, everyone does the same thing. Which means busy recruiters are bombarded with thousands of inquiries from strangers, many of whom are unqualified, underqualified or overqualified for the position.

It’s better to have a different mindset: Be a giver, not a taker. Ask how you can help match the right professional or gig worker with an open role. 

By contributing to potential employers, you’ll gain a reputation as someone who adds value in the marketplace. That will immediately make you attractive in a sea of needy candidates.

Network with personal, professional, and social circles

Leverage current and past contacts to find out who may be hiring. This can be a powerful approach because these people have already known you for years. They’ll be more comfortable referring you to employers compared to a random stranger.

Moreover, the hidden job market is huge. 

The vast majority of open positions aren’t actually published on online job boards. They’re quietly filled by colleagues, former coworkers, ex-girlfriends, and nephews and nieces without the general public knowing. Like it or not, that’s how the labor market works.

Online tools like tap publicly-available databases so you can reconnect with family, relatives, friends, old college buddies, past coworkers and business associates. The site identifies contact info, addresses and social media info, according to Elvis Džebić, a company representative.

“To make a quick search, you’ll need to know a contact’s first and last name. However, if you’re researching a common name (like Bob Johnson), you can narrow the search to include city and state.”