Using your network to get back to work
The current situation with the COVID pandemic has left countless people unemployed and struggling to find new jobs. In an effort to adapt, many people turn to their network for opportunities, whether it’s to communicate with friends, former colleagues, or tap into their LinkedIn connections who may be employed by companies they are interested in. If you find yourself in this position, these are some ideas that may help you maximize your chances of earning a positive job referral.
It doesn’t matter what relationship you have with that person. Maybe you’ve known him/her for years, maybe you’ve just met. He/she may never have seen you function professionally, so you’ll need to convince her that you can successfully fill the position. It is important to discuss what you can contribute in terms of relevant education, experience or qualifications. You should prepare for the discussion as you would for any job interview. Make sure you do proper research on the company they work for and the position they are holding. Show your knowledge of the industry and the role involved. Talk about what you think are the most important aspects of the job and how you can contribute.
Have your studies given you a better understanding of how the industry works? Did you acquire any technical skills that can be easily transferred to the position? Do you have any relevant work or internship experience? Have you learned any lessons that can help provide a unique perspective on problem solving or streamlining processes? Do you have or are you working towards an industry recognized qualification? If you’re just starting out in the industry, your intent for specific qualifications is still worth mentioning.
Most jobs in any industry can be done by thousands of candidates. Competition for positions has increased further due to the pandemic. In some cases, more than 4,000 people are applying for a single entry-level job. So why you?
Your motivation to be there is often a much bigger factor than you think. Sometimes we just don´t have a choice. Often we just need a job. But no matter how big or small the opportunity is, be sure to show some enthusiasm for it. So, it is worth mentioning some genuine reasons why you want the job, so that your friend understands that it is about more than just money.
Think of one or two key aspects of the opportunity that appeal to you the most.
It’s worth considering your motivation at these 3 levels and making sure you can demonstrate it.
- Why this industry? (If you change industry or start your career) What attracts you to the industry? Why is it so important to you?
- Why this company? What positive differences does this company have compared to its competitors? Is the company a known leader in the industry? Or is it a niche/specialist with a unique approach that aligns more with your values and opinions?
- why this job? Are there technical aspects of the job that make it interesting to you? Is it something that suits your personality? Perhaps you are the type of person who enjoys researching and getting into the essential details. Perhaps you are more focused on company strategy and high-level decisions. Or maybe you prefer to build and maintain customer-facing role relationships. Does the job offer you mentoring and guidance within a team, or an opportunity for more autonomy working alone?
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Nothing shows you are genuinely interested more than asking questions about the position. There is a lot you can understand from the job specification. So don’t be afraid to ask your friend questions to get a better idea of what to expect, both from you and from the company.
Here are some questions you should consider asking:
What are the daily responsibilities of someone in this role? Will there be opportunities to grow or take on more responsibilities as I move forward? What are reasonable goals for someone in this role to target in their first year? To understand whether an opportunity is worth taking advantage of, it is important to ask a wide variety of questions. You should ask questions ranging from the technical aspects of the job to the culture of the company. This will give you a better idea of the working environment and how well it fits in. The better the fit, the more likely you are to stick around.
Don’t underestimate yourself
Some people are afraid of disappointing their friends. So, they make a conscious effort to expose all their shortcomings to their friend so as not to create unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, however honest you may be, it destroys your friend’s trust in you. Don’t minimize your skills and accomplishments. Just make sure you don’t lie or promise what you can’t deliver. Most employers don’t expect you to know everything, they know your background and what to expect. They know where their experience doesn’t quite match. But they also know that everyone has the ability to learn and learn things. You should know it too. Often people who were less “qualified” got the job because they were better suited for the job. They were properly motivated, asked smarter questions, and showed they wanted to stay longer. Sometimes, the difference in background made them more interesting candidates because they could bring different perspectives to the rest of the team. Focus on what you can contribute rather than what you lack. If they are happy with what you can do, they will care less about what you cannot.
It’s great if you have connections that can potentially help you. Whether they are lifelong friends or contacts you have developed online, do your best to make it easier for them to recommend you.
- Be professional
- Show interest
- Be curious
- Trust your abilities
Having connections doesn’t automatically get you a job, but it may give you a better chance of getting an interview. Given how competitive things are right now, that’s already a significant advantage.
Article written by Carlos Camara, CFR Global Executive Search Spain
Photo source: Pexels