Find a job through networking

There are many ways to find a new or better job. There are the traditional approaches: responding to a recruitment ad, applying directly to an employer or registering with a placement agency such as Manpower. And there is the informal - but nonetheless effective - approach, which involves networking, either in person or virtually. Parents, friends, acquaintances, colleagues... a network is a true asset to someone seeking new work.

Join the social networking trend

Networking means building and maintaining one's social network for professional purposes. Adopting a networking frame of mind allows you to get in touch with people who can help you with your career.

A first contact will allow you to progressively establish a relationship and develop ties, as networking relies mainly on a mutually beneficial rationale.

What is the best way to get in touch with a former colleague, a client, a Manpower consultant, etc. on a social network? How can you make this relationship evolve towards professional opportunities?

Whichever way you choose is best! If you know the person's name you can easily look it up using your social network's search engine. LinkedIn, Xing and Facebook all provide a search functionality.

If you don't have this information, professional networks allow you to search by function and/or company.

There are other, more sophisticated, methods like looking for the person in the network of people they might know. You can also look for them in interest groups or fan-pages, such as the person's current or former employer's page, a sports page, the page of their city, etc. If you met the person at an event that was advertised on a social network, you can check the guest list and find their photo, or, even better, their contact details.

To visit Manpower Switzerland's pages click on the following links:

FacebookLinkedIn  – XingTwitter

Manpower's Tip: Not all Manpower consultants are on social networks. If you can’t find the person you are looking for, do not hesitate to contact any Manpower consultant – located anywhere in Switzerland – and ask them either to connect you to the person you were looking for or to give you their contact information. Don't forget to ask them to inform the person of your intent to get in touch.

On recommendation

Once you have found the person you were looking for, see if you share common acquaintances. Such acquaintances could recommend you directly or allow you to mention their name, making it easier for you to get in touch, particularly if the person you are looking for is highly solicited.

  • Always explain why you are getting in touch, personalize your communication as much as possible and offer your help in return.

  • Keep the intermediary in the loop, so that the person you are contacting feels more bound to reply.

  • Don't forget to thank the intermediary afterwards and to keep them informed of the outcome!

Our tip: LinkedIn has a “getting introduced” function and Xing shows the people standing between you and the other person, as a suggestion of how to get in touch with them.

Getting in touch directly

People are more likely to accept one's attempt to get in touch directly on social networks than in real life. You can take advantage of this possibility when you don't have an intermediary. As this means of communication is not widely used yet, you will increase your chances to stand out among other candidates.

Moreover, contacting somebody on a social network gives them access to your public information, allowing them to get an idea of who you are, to learn about your interests, your background, etc.

Getting in touch through a social network has another advantage for the person you are contacting: they can choose when they want to read your message and reply to it.

Our tip: It is common practice to let the person know how you found them on a social network. Explain why you are getting in touch and the why they are of particular interest to you. In other words, explain your motives.

Bingo! Your profile caught the attention of a recruiter who sent you a message or a request to be part of your contacts.

Closely examine their request. Are they contacting you for professional purposes? Have they mentioned an opportunity? Or are they getting in touch for private purposes? In this case, don't immediately ask them for help but try to establish a relationship first.

Reply in a professional manner, maybe alluding to a common interest. This can help connect and might convince them to schedule an interview or a real-life meeting in an informal setting.

If a job opportunity is mentioned, don't waste a minute and learn everything you can about this person’s company using Internet and different social networks.

What is networking?

Networking is asking members of one's network for help in finding a job, building one's career or changing careers. Opt for the networking approach as soon as you decide to look for a new job. Friends, current and former co-workers, family members: all these people could potentially help you and guide you through your career options.

Looking for a career change, a new job, or career advancement?

Whatever your goal, tell others about it.

Networking isn't improvised, it's organized!

A brief chat about gardening with a neighbour can be improvised, but a networking conversation must be carefully planned. First you must define your career objective. Your network will then act as an advisor or expert who will provide all the connections to help you succeed.

A good networking plan

Internet, online forums and platforms and print media can be good sources of information.

Family, friends, etc. Do they know people who work or have worked in this field?

These people will help you to reach your goal, progress more quickly, learn more about your field of interest and meet people who are well-positioned in this field (expert, department head, human resources manager, etc.).

Group them by category: their connection to the field, the nature of your relationship, their expertise, their networks, etc. You can come up with your own criteria based on the value of your contacts.

This verbal information has three objectives:

  • describe what it is you are trying to do,

  • explain what you expect from this person and

  • get their attention.

You may also test it on friends and family. Ask them what they think and what needs to improve in order to reach your goal.

Business cards, CV, cover letters, etc. Send them out!

How should you select your contacts?

Make a list of 50+ people who could help you in your career

  • Parents/family members

  • Friends, acquaintances

  • Co-workers (current and former)

  • Neighbours (current and former)

  • PTA members, parents of your sons' soccer team or your daughter's dance school, etc.

  • Former classmate

  • Teammates

  • Members of associations, political groups, etc.

  • Doctor, dentist, insurance advisor, lawyer, etc.

  • Etc.

  • Co-worker in the same profession as you:

    • Which of your professional skills would that person identify as strengths?

    • Does he or she know other people who were successful in this kind of undertaking?

  • Mentor:

    • How would this person go about obtaining this position in the company?

    • Would he or she review your CV?

  • Reference:

    • What does this person like about your personality?

    • Would he or she agree to write you a letter of recommendation?

    • Does he or she know any well-placed individuals who could support you in your efforts?

  • Expert in your field:

    • How does this person see the sector evolving in the coming years?

    • What areas should be developed in order to succeed in this field in five or ten years?

    • What information does he or she have about the industry's top companies?

  • Someone who left another industry to join this one:

    • How did this person go about it?

    • What steps did he or she take?

    • Why did that person want to work in this field?

    • What does the person like about their job?

    • What doesn't he or she like?

  • Person who left for another career:

    • What aspects of the work did this person not like?

    • Does he or she have any regrets?

    • Etc.

When prioritizing, keep in mind the following traits of a good contact:

  • Someone who wants to help you.

  • Someone who knows many people.

  • Someone who is aware of the current job market.

  • Someone who is successful.

Expand your network

As your research progresses, your list will grow and your network will expand. Attend job fairs, networking clubs, brunch, lunch or evening events organized by the chamber of commerce or placement agencies, conventions, professional association meetings or labour union events. Sign onto social networking sites on the Internet (e.g. Xing, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook or Rezonance (in French-speaking Switzerland)) and keep your profile up to date. Visit placement agencies, subscribe to the newsletters of your target companies, etc. Collect business cards. Set up a winning strategy to find THE JOB that's right for you. Stay open and on the lookout! And above all, if someone asks for help, be ready to provide it.
Remember that successful networking depends on sharing and reciprocity.

Additional tips...

  • Express your gratitude. Send a thank you e-mail within 24 hours of a meeting.

  • Be clear about what you want from your networking contacts.

  • Create simple business cards with no frills; your full contact details are all you need.

  • Stay in touch. Keep interested contacts informed about the progress of your project or job search.

  • Volunteering, part-time jobs and temporary work are activities that help with networking. These are ways to learn more about a sector and to meet new people.

  • Professional associations are full of avid networkers whom you'll meet at gatherings, forums and conferences.

Networking can take place anywhere and at any time of the day or night. Be prepared!

Five basic rules to follow on social networks

1

Take good care of your profile and do not hesitate to post comments and links to interesting articles in order to get noticed by recruiters.

2

As soon as you register on a social network, stay active, check your new requests as well as your email and answer them promptly.

3

Social networks can provide you with a fair amount of information about the consultant you are approaching. Make good use of it! For instance, you can allude to one of the consultant’s publications, a common hobby, a school you both attended, etc.

4

Observe the basic rules of job-oriented written communication. Be concise and try to understand the needs of the person you are speaking to.

5

If you end up landing an interview take it one step at a time. Start by thanking the person for their time via their professional email address.