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6-09-2023

How to network successfully to aid in your job search

Leading experts on career development claim that the chance of getting an interview after a referral is as high as 50%, whereas applying to job openings online only yields an interview in 3% of cases. 3%! Not a highly successful strategy. Instead, it is far better to strengthen your networking activities! Not only are the chances of finding a new position much higher, but it is also informative, rewarding, and will result in interesting and inspiring conversations (on or offline)

How to identify which professionals to contact
If you have an idea of the position you aim for, you can search for professionals in that position and reach out to them to get reallife information about this role. A great way to find such professionals is using LinkedIn by searching for specific role titles. This will provide you with an overview of different backgrounds, and can lead to your target role. Look for people with a similar background or experience to your own. These are the most interesting people for you, because they can tell you how they managed to transition out of a similar position to the one you are in now. These people can tell you what was challenging and which skills from prior experiences helped them to excel in this role. Another way is to find companies that you are interested in, and apply the same strategy to find people who work at these companies using LinkedIn and then reach out and contact them.

How to approach professionals
Once you have found people interesting to you, you need to reach out. But how do you contact these impressive professionals in a way that will make them willing to share their experience? First and foremost, it is important to always add value and never to ask for a job! Remember that you are seeking information to get a better idea of whether this role really suits you. Contacting them can be as simple as congratulating the person for their achievements and letting them know why you are she or he transitioned into their current role or company. And yes, it is okay to be honest and share the similarities you identified with your own background or experiences. Well received questions include: What helped you succeed in getting hired in your current role or company? And: Which skills did you need to acquire to be successful in this position? It can be tremendously helpful when writing an application letter or in a job interview, to know which challenges you will face in the position you are applying for. Interested in learning from them. It may be that you are interested in a similar job role, or that you have a similar educational background and would like to learn how she or he transitioned into their current role or company. And yes, it is okay to be honest and share the similarities you identified with your own background or experiences. Wellreceived questions include: What helped you succeed in getting hired in your current role or company? And: Which skills did you need to acquire to be successful in this position? It can be tremendously helpful when writing an application letter or in a job interview, to know which challenges you will face in the position you are applying for.

How to handle rejection
Not everyone will respond immediately (or at all), which can be due to many reasons, including simple time restrictions this person may have right now. Therefore, it is important to be persistent and follow up on your request after an appropriate time has passed (1 week is appropriate – 1 day is not). This also shows that you are genuinely interested. Remind the person of your interest in learning from them. However, if you don’t get an answer even after several follow-ups with appropriate waiting time in between, let it go and refocus your efforts on others. Never pressure or annoy anyone (!) who for unknown reasons is not willing or able to share their experience or simply has no time to respond. If you are respectful and truly add value by showing interest, it is only a matter of time until you find someone willing to share their experience with you. And once you do, make sure to tell your story, share your career visions and goals, and add value by asking questions about their career path.

Why go to all this effort if you don’t have all the requirements?
You don’t need to have everything and, by the way, usually nobody has it. The perfect candidate who meets all the requirements listed in the job description, usually does not exist. However, if you can convince the hiring manager that you have already identified the skills and topics you need to focus on to excel in the role, and you are confident in acquiring these skills, this may give you a competitive advantage over other candidates. The most reliable way to identify such focus areas is indeed to ask professionals who have experience in the respective position and can give you first-hand proven tips and tricks for fulfilling the role.

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