If you’re on the hunt for a new job, or just a foot in the door, it doesn’t mean you have to start sliding into a stranger’s DMs or stalking your future CEO.
According to Catherine Fisher, Senior Director of Global Integrated Marketing and Communications at Linkedin, more than 70% of professionals get hired at companies where they have a personal connection.
You know what they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
That means there’s probably someone you're already acquainted with that could help you take the steps towards the perfect gig. They might not be your best mate, but chances are they exist within six degrees of separation.
Here are some easy steps on how to use the connections you already have to land your dream job...
Step 1: Quality Over Quantity
If you’ve experienced the lull between uni and full-time work, or you’re still in the thick of studying, you’ll know that all too familiar niggle that tells you to cast your job seeker net far and wide.
It’s pretty hard to ignore the status quo when all your classmates are sending their resumes to hundreds and hundreds of employers in hopes of a call-back.
...but is that the best strategy?
Instead of trying to get responses and job referrals from people you hardly know, why not look at your own network. Make a list of all the people you know that either work in (or could have connections in) the industry you’d like to work in. They could be old school mates, teachers, family friends, colleagues or even friends of friends.
You’d be amazed at just how many people in your social circle know a person who knows a person looking for a candidate just like you.
Step 2: Treat Your Connections Like Gold
Now you’ve narrowed down a list of people who could help you, it’s time to craft your approach.
Sending a Facebook message to your cousin’s roommate who you think works in advertising with a “hey, know of any jobs going?” probably isn’t going to go down so well. Copying and pasting the same spiel to all your new connections is just as impersonal (and a little lazy).
According to career coach Ryan Khan, “A rookie mistake is to ask for something in your initial email to someone you haven’t met yet.”
“Be honest and upfront, but don’t start off by requesting a phone call or coffee meet up. Instead, think of how you can give or add value to their life before asking for something,” he tells Business Insider.
Take the time to nurture your relationships and treat your connections the way you’d like to be treated if the roles were reversed. This means you’ll need to be interested in what they’re up to and find common ground, before you launch into any questions about job referrals.
Step 3: Build & Maintain The Relationship
Once you’ve had a bit of friendly banter and established a common thread with your connection, it’s time to get to business, without the ambush.
Here’s an example, via The Muse:
“Thanks so much, Matt. It’s been great talking with you. Hey, I noticed that Google is looking for a social media executive. Would you happen to know the person I should talk with to get some additional information on this position?”
Assuming Matt knows what you’re talking about, he does his best to point you in the right direction and voila, you’re in!
Now, it’s all well and good to reach out to your network and establish a connection...but leaving it at that might leave your job search high and dry.
In fact, you shouldn’t only reach out to your connections when you need something. Earning respect by checking in with them every so often shows that you’re thoughtful, considerate and genuinely interested in making it a win-win relationship.
Step 4: Be Patient
Using your connections (wisely) takes time and effort. There’s the time you’ll need to set aside to reach out, schedule a coffee or meeting, make separate introductions, and then even if there is a job at the end of the tunnel, you’ll still have to gear up for the interviewing process.
But don’t let the process discourage you. Even if utilising your connections doesn’t land you a job, it shows people in the industry you’re willing to take the time to build relationships, and you never know, your schmoozing might pay off in the long term.
Also - remember that we all need help from others from time to time, so don’t be afraid to ask for it! One day the tables will turn and you'll be the one offering advice.