Use networks to get your dream job: how to use your contacts to open doors
Instead of using a job advertisement, many companies prefer to search for the right candidate internally. Professional networking is therefore essential for opening the door to these hidden job openings. The following tips will help you to build up the right network for your career.
Networks – what are they good for?
Imagine you need to fill a position and have to select from two candidates. You've only heard about one of them for the first time, the other was recommended to you as competent and reliable by someone you trust. It's obvious who has better chances. Your goal as an applicant should therefore be to end up on the human resources manager’s desk via recommendations from your network. Another advantage of networking: your contacts might inform you about job openings before they are publicly advertised and can also often tell you what skills are required. The cherry on the cake are recommendation letters and other references, which are worth their weight in gold in your search for your dream job.
The place to be: appropriate places to network
In order to build up a good network for your career, you need to grab opportunities when they come along. Join associations or professional organisations that fit your job profile. You will often hear about job openings there first. It’s even more effective to participate in conferences and conventions in your business area or attend trade fairs. Be communicative and show interest in the exhibitor’s projects. For example, ask if the team might need extra support during the end-of-year or end-of-quarter accounts and tell them about your previous experience.
Opportunities to expand your personal network for your career also sometimes arise in the private sphere. Perhaps you meet someone at a birthday party or at the gym who works for an interesting company. Strike up a conversation and get their contact details. Maybe they can tell you if a job opens up and even recommend you.
Online social networks are becoming increasingly important for your professional networking. Xing, LinkedIn and Facebook are the dominant communities, but individual sectors have their own platforms for social recruiting. Create a profile that presents you in a way that is advantageous, but authentic. Then you can actively make contact with your desired employer. It’s equally effective if you start or moderate groups on interesting topics. It’s quite possible that a human resources manager notices you there and that the social network will help your career in this way.
Maintain your relationships
When you meet interesting people, it's important to maintain contact and to show that it's worthwhile being in your job network. Networking is always give and take. No doubt you have something to offer that might help your contact professionally too. Meet up with contacts in your area regularly and stay in contact with people you don’t see often by email. If you get on well on a friendship level, you’ll almost certainly be able to support each other professionally too. In this way, both parties profit and the relationship only brings advantages.