Job Search, Networking

Networking Tips & Best Practices

Two women talk together on city street

Surefire Ways To Access The Hidden Job Market.

Up to 80 percent of job opportunities are obtained through the hidden job market—positions that aren’t formally posted through traditional means. Here are six ways to expand your network and access the hidden job market.

  • Build relationships: People help people they know. Who you know and who knows you are key in creating networks.
  • Cast a wide net: Network with current and former employees at companies of interest.
  • Break the ice: Find something in common that you can lead with when reaching out to a contact.
  • Demonstrate your value: Share a relevant article or piece of information; this is also a great way to maintain contact once it’s been established.
  • Expand your network: Ask your contacts if they can recommend anyone else for you to speak with or that they can introduce you to.
  • Be proactive: Initiate contact instead of waiting to be found.

Making it Personal

How to network your way to a new job

By some estimates, a full 70 percent of people found their current jobs through networking. That’s partly because many open positions don’t ever get publicly posted. Companies instead turn to internal candidates and personal recommendations to fill crucial roles.

Whether you’re actively looking for work or just firming up industry connections, technology recruiter and Rutgers alumnus Spencer Phillips recommends you make networking a regular habit. Phillips SMLR’16 works at Hirewell, a Chicago-based recruiting firm, and he’s seen the value of well-established connections up close. Here are a few of his recommendations for effective networking:

Connect with who you know.  Reach out to former co-workers, acquaintances, and fellow alumni for information and advice. That can open doors to learning more about where they work and what they do there. Strengthening your existing connections is especially important when it comes to networking within your chosen profession. “Use LinkedIn to remain connected with other people in your industry, even if they don’t work at the same company you do. You want to cultivate those relationships before you really need them.”

Don’t just have your hand out.  “Always look to provide value to what your networking connection is doing. Asking for a job is just going to turn most people off, but if you send a short message explaining how you can help make their lives easier, you’re likely to start a meaningful conversation.” Even sending a link to an article on an industry issue shows that you’re keeping up with the type of position you’re looking for.

Put together an elevator pitch.  Always be prepared to let new contacts know what you’re up to professionally and where you’re looking to go next in your career. Phillips recommends “making a list of the assets you will bring as a prospective employee. That way you’re always ready to give your contacts what they need to put in a good word for you.”

Be sincere. When you ask for referrals, follow through and always thank contacts in writing. “Connecting through LinkedIn doesn’t replace having a faceto-face interaction with someone. You still need to make a phone call, send an email, and physically meet up with people at events to create a beneficial business relationship.”