Since the day you stepped onto the job market and launched your search, you’ve been besieged by one piece of advice over and over again: use your network. Counselors, mentors, and internet articles harp on this point over and over, and they have great reasons for doing so. Hiring can be an expensive gamble, and employers almost always prefer to hire someone they know, or someone who comes strongly recommended by someone they know. And as if this obstacle isn’t enough, keep in mind that hundreds of great positions may be available all around you, but many of these opportunities may not be posted on job boards. In order to find them, you’ll just have to be in the right place at the right time…or simply know the right people.
So if you don’t know these people yet, what can you do? How can you meet them? And once you gain all-important access to a real conversation, what should you say? Here are a few tips that can help you find the people you need to meet, and then introduce yourself once you gain contact.
If you have to choose between staying in and going out, go out. Always. As long as you’re on the job market, you need to call forth your inner extrovert and get off the couch. Attend gatherings and events with a smile on your face, and every time you leave the house, dress nicely.
This detail of your life can feel embarrassing and personal, but let your trusted friends and supporters know that you’re looking for work. These are people who want to help you and want to see you succeed, so if they meet someone who can support this effort, they’ll take action—but only if they know you want them to.
Demonstrate grace when you’re introduced by someone else. If your friend praises you, accept the praise humbly. Then shift conversations away from your own needs and your own life story and onto someone else’s. For example, if your friend introduces you to a potential employer with flowery compliments, smile, thank your friend, and then ask your new contact about his or her work.
When you see someone you’d like to meet, gather your courage. Walk up to them. If they’re engaged in a conversation, listen for a moment and then join in. If not, simply make eye contact, smile, and extend your hand for a shake. Say your name, then explain your connection to the person and why they interest you.
People are strange and unpredictable creatures. Just because you would respond to a situation in a certain way doesn’t mean another person will do the same. If your new contact stares at you awkwardly, rejects your overtures, or chats with you pleasantly and then later ignores you, don’t take this personally. Be kind, forgiving, and persistent. Find something likable in everyone you meet, and in time, most of them will do the same for you.
After you’ve laid the groundwork with a proper introduction, you’ll eventually need to follow through and start actively pursuing available opportunities that interest you. In order to do this, you’ll need an effective and well-written resume. If you need some help getting started, try using a resume example database. You’ll get access to over 800,000 real-life resumes, submitted by job applicants from all around the country.
Search the sample database using your industry, your job title, or your geographic area, and you’ll find countless resume samples that have been graded using a sophisticated system that separates the most effective resumes from the least effective. Get a sense of what works for your industry, for your target employers, and for you.
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