Network Your Face Off
My landlord. The daughter of my professor’s friend. A random IT guy that I hadn’t worked with in 3 years. What do they all have in common?
All of these connections provided me with a referral to a prestigious company (including Google, Booking.com, and Optimizely) while I was in the midst of a challenging international job hunt. Now that I have landed a full time gig I can join the bandwagon and confirm that networking is essential for improving the quality and speed of your job hunt.
Get hired through a referral and experience a much shorter hiring process.
JobVite finds that applicants hired through a referral start in 29 days on average, compared to experiencing a 55 day hiring process when hired through career sites.
In my case, I was moving from Los Angeles to the Netherlands, had essentially zero contacts in the latter country, and would likely need a visa after my first year of work. I assumed that that profile didn’t fit recruiters’ ideal mold, and only when I started leveraging my network to meet friends of friends of friends could I really get past the application stage.
So, here are some tips based on that experience for how you can exhaust your network resources to land referrals.
LinkedIn Networking Techniques:
Yes, I know you know LinkedIn. And you probably know a lot of the features it provides. Still, there are creative ways in which you can use tools to see who knows who:
Advanced People Search:
What search criteria would you use if you were moving to another country and wanted to broaden your network there? Obviously, location would be key. Furthermore, you are much more likely to get a response from someone within one “network hop” of you (meaning you know them directly or a contact of yours does). So, make sure to check these options when initially filtering your search.
This action will still output thousands of results, most likely, so be even more restrictive so you can align with your job hunt goals. Set a target list of companies in which you’d like to network your way into, and place them all in the “Current Companies” list. The people currently working at companies of interest are probably more interested in talking about their experience, no?
Restrict your advanced search to prevent thousands of contacts from showing up.
Finally, if you have dream companies and you don’t care about location, or just want to hear about the culture there, don’t forget the valuable alumni connections. Even if someone attended your school for study abroad they may have had such a positive collegiate experience that they’re still excited to talk to you based on that connection. Make sure to adjust the way you search by school, so if you went to University of California, Berkeley, you could search for just the word “Berkeley” or actually choose whatever LinkedIn auto-populates for that school.
Most importantly – LinkedIn limits your search frequency, so once you have your perfect search criteria created and executed – keep that tab open as long as you can. Otherwise you may lose your searching privaleges until the next month starts, and that’s just annoying.
Post a request for networking:
This is definitely a more gutsy technique. Still, it is a quick and easy way to gain a few contacts. By simply posting on LinkedIn your moving, or job hunt plans, you get a lot of eyes and minds on your plans. That way, for whoever sees your post, they may comment on it with a name of a contact, or if within the next few months one of their contacts’ moves to that company, than that spark will light up and they may reach out to you. That is precisely how I got my current job.
Customize your outreach message:
Put yourselves in the shoes of the contact you’d like to talk with. First of all, how often does a person that is not in the midst of a job hunt use LinkedIn? And when they do, how likely is responding to your message going to be on their priority list?
You need to personalize your message to increase their likelihood to respond, and to make whatever your “ask” is as easy as possible for them to follow through on.
Example 1 (asking for a referral): Hey XXX, Hope all is well with you back in the Bay Area and with Company Y. It certainly has been quite a long time since we worked together back at Company X. I’m reaching out because I recently moved to Los Angeles and came across a Sales Management role at the Company Y LA office. I was wondering if you would be open to sharing my LinkedIn profile with the hiring team given your regular interactions with my sales team there. Regardless, thanks for taking the time to read this message and take care!
Example 2 (asking to be connected to a recruiter or another contact):
Hey John! How was your summer? Have you started at Company X yet? Hope all is well.
Real quick question to ask. I saw on LinkedIn that you may know RECRUITER at Company Y, which is a company I’m targeting here in Los Angeles. If so, would you be willing to intro us through email? I’m aiming to get a few informational interviews scheduled before applying. If so, let me know and my personal email is XXX@gmail.com (or LinkedIn works). Thanks for your help regardless and I look forward to hearing how things are going. –
Of course, you will be working on this process over and over and over so make sure to templatize your messages to speed up your networking.
Is LinkedIn Premium worth it?
Personally, I don’t think so. How much does it really help to see application data such as the number of candidates applying per region and how your “endorsed skills” compare to those people? Really, it doesn’t matter.
The only value I got out of premium was for extra inMail credits to reach out to people out of my network. These connections are the least likely to respond to you anyway, so I would much more strongly advise you find another way to contact them (like going through a referral or finding their direct email address online).
HOWEVER – if you want to try it or already have it, know that you can possibly get 2 months at 50% the price by threatening to cancel premium. That’s what happened to me, and I used the extra credits I got over those last 2 months.