There are three easy steps to getting noticed in today’s digitally dominated job market: network, network, network. Today you need more than a resume and a cover letter to get that dream job. Below are 10 pieces of advice for how you can network your way to a great new job:
1. Rejuvenate your resume. Resumes rarely showcase how great you are. That’s why it’s probably time to breathe a little life into yours. Think of it this way: If you are the CEO of Me, Myself, and I Inc., your resume and cover letter serve as marketing materials.
“Grab the attention of employers by upping the impact of your resume,” says Maribeth Kuzmeski, founder of Red Zone Marketing. “That might mean bucking the traditional resume format to include eye-catching (but informative) headlines. Make sure you are emphasizing the tangible benefits you’ve done for past employers. Turn your resume into something an employer would want to read.”
2. Build your online resume using LinkedIn. According to Jobvite.com’s 2010 Social Recruiting survey, 83 percent of employers plan to use social networks to recruit this year.
“LinkedIn is especially important because it is the most commonly viewed source for job seekers and employers,” Kuzmeski says. “Go to www.linkedin.com and add your picture and a summary of your past job responsibilities, and state what you’re looking for. As a LinkedIn member, you can also join groups, review books and proactively connect with potential employers.”
3. Get face-to-face with potential employers. Dropping off a follow-up note or resume are great opportunities for getting some face time with a potential employer. Or after the interview, stop by the potential employer’s office with an article you think would be of interest to him or her or a small gift (e.g., a box of candy) based on some piece of information you found out about him during the interview.
“Once you are face-to-face, in an interview or otherwise, focus on having eye contact throughout,” Kuzmeski says. “Lean in, show them you are interested in everything they say and think before you answer any questions. Establishing this face time is sure to set you apart from your job market competition.”
4. Make an impact by using video. To really capture the attention of a potential employer, record a quick video. Use it to get an interview or as a follow-up after an interview. Instead of e-mailing a resume or a post-interview thank-you note, include a link to a two- or three-minute video of you. Carefully script your response and record the quick message using a flip video camera or even a webcam. Post it on YouTube or another service and send the video link to your potential employer.
- Introduce yourself.
- Identify the job you would like to be interviewed for.
- List three items about your background that may make them interested in interviewing you.
- Thank them for watching the video and ask them for the interview.
5. Let them do the talking. (You ask the questions.) Kuzmeski suggests coming up with a list of questions to get the conversation going. Here are a few great ice breakers:
- What did you do for your vacation this year?
- Where did you grow up?
- Do you still have family there?
- How are your kids?
- What are they up to?
- What do you think about (something from current events, your town or city’s local news, or a recent event in your industry)?
Once the conversation is flowing freely, you can move on to more in-depth business questions:
- What’s the best thing that has happened to your business this year?
- What’s one thing you’ve done that has really changed your career?
- What will you never do again in business?
- What’s your biggest challenge?
- What’s makes a good client for you?
- What do you find is the most effective way to keep a client happy?
“The more they talk and you listen, the more they will like you because you are showing genuine interest in them,” Kuzmeski says. “Pretty soon, they will be asking you questions, and a valuable business connection will have been made.”
6. Be prepared to pitch yourself in 15 seconds. Kuzmeski says when you are networking you should resist the urge to give a 10-minute introduction about yourself. Instead, prepare a short, 15-second elevator pitch that hits on your career high points and top skills. Think about what’s unique about what you have done and what helps you stand out from a crowd of other job seekers.
“I’ve had great success with the following pitch about myself: ‘Hi! My name is Maribeth Kuzmeski. I own a marketing consulting firm, Red Zone Marketing. I’ve worked with an NBA team, with U.S. senators, financial advisors and mutual fund companies. I’ve even closed a sale while upside-down in an aerobatic biplane 7,000 feet above ground.’
“Be creative and think about how you can frame your accomplishments in a way that gets peoples’ attention.”
7. Get involved in organizations that are connected to your profession. Job fairs can be great ways to get in front of potential employers, but you might not want to focus only on companies you know are hiring. In order to meet people within your industry who might have the potential to hire you, attend trade shows and seminars and join organizations connected to your profession.
“Again, you might not find someone who is going to hire you on the spot, but you will have the chance to meet people who have potential to hire you in the future, “Kuzmeski says. “Take copies of your resume and business cards to any of these events.”
8. Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to give back, but it is also a great way to sneak in some networking. For example, if you are in marketing, volunteer to work with the PR director at a nonprofit, or if you are an accountant, volunteer your financial expertise.
“There are usually many hands that go into keeping a nonprofit running,” Kuzmeski says. “Volunteering provides you the opportunity to meet them. And, remember, you don’t necessarily have to be doing anything that is connected to your profession. Simply volunteering at a place with a cause you are passionate about will provide you the chance to get in front of a lot of great connectors that you might not have met otherwise.”
9. Be a mover and a shaker. The next time you attend a networking event or even a party, force yourself to get outside of your comfort zone. Make it a point to introduce yourself to new people and find out as much as you can about them.
“It’s all about expanding your opportunities,” Kuzmeski says. “By getting outside of your normal fish bowl, you can expand your connections.”
10. Always network. “We run into people everywhere in our day-to-day lives, but very few of us capitalize on all those great connections,” Kuzmeski says. “Next time you’re on an airplane, instead of working on your laptop or reading the paper the whole time, get to know the person next to you. Strike up a conversation with the person behind you in line at the grocery store.
“Provide a simple, repeatable statement of value. By creating a statement like this, those you connect with can easily pass along information about you. They might say, ‘I just met this guy Mike on a plane. He said he’s closed a sale in all 50 states. Here’s his card.’ Or, ‘I met this publicist Sarah at my daughter’s school. She’s always booking her clients on The Today Show…’”
Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA, is the author of four books, including The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life (Wiley, 2009). She is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com