Because a large percentage of job seekers find positions through someone they know, talking with contacts is an important part of your job search.
- Make a list of ALL the people you know. Include classmates, instructors, former co-workers, friends, family, neighbors and people you know from community, spiritual or professional activities. Review your card file or address book to prompt your memory. Strive for at least 100 names.
- Develop a record-keeping system to track your contacts with people. There are many options to choose from: computer software, tracking chart, 3 x 5 card file, or organizing your records in a 3-ring notebook.
- Call each of your personal contacts. Explain you are not asking for a job, but would like them to keep you in mind if they hear of an organization which needs your talents. Describe your strengths and skills, and the type of work you seek. Share your job search strategy and ask for their advice. Ask for referrals to people who might hear of a job which requires your strengths.
- Make calls to your friends' contacts and repeat the process. To increase your comfort level, write a script outlining what you want to say. It can be helpful to practice with a friend.
- Begin each call by mentioning your contact's name, "John Alexander suggested I call you." Then describe why you are calling, "I've just finished my Office Technology Degree and am looking for a position utilizing my organizational, problem solving, and extensive software skills."
- Ask for a few minutes on the phone or schedule a short informational meeting. "I'd like to ask you a few questions about my job search strategy. Is this a good time?" Or, "I'd like to schedule a 15-minute meeting to ask your advice on my job search. How is next Wednesday or Thursday?"
- Be ready with a list of at least ten questions to ask. Here are some suggestions:
- How did you get into this career field? How did you get your first job in this field?
- Where do you see this field going? Is it expanding or contracting?
- What does this organization look for when hiring new staff?
- What skills and training are employers looking for to fill this position?
- Who else could I talk to about this field?
- Thank the person at the end of the call or meeting and send a thank-you note (preferably) or email the same day.
- Nurture your network. Continue to contact people every 3-6 weeks. Use a brief follow up call to explain how you implemented their ideas and called their referrals. Or, you can send a short letter informing people about your progress and mentioning additional companies you're exploring.
- It's OK to feel awkward. You may never feel comfortable making contact with people you don't know and that's fine. Do it anyway! Making phone contacts can shave weeks off your job search. If you want a job sooner, rather than later, commit to talking with large numbers of people.
- As you move through your job search, keep an open mind about who can be helpful. Be willing to tell everyone you meet about your skills and strengths and the job you seek.