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The Five Don’ts Of Networking

I once had a new client rattle off a list of publications she was interested in working for. When I asked which ones she had already applied to, she told me none were hiring. …Or so she thought. If your job hunting strategy boils down to scanning online job postings, you should know that you’re […]

I once had a new client rattle off a list of publications she was interested in working for. When I asked which ones she had already applied to, she told me none were hiring.

…Or so she thought.

If your job hunting strategy boils down to scanning online job postings, you should know that you’re only seeing 20% of the jobs available.

Yes, you read that right. A whopping 80% of open jobs never get posted, because there’s no need for companies to waste time and money posting an available position when they have plenty of qualified candidates in their network to pull from.

So what’s a job seeker to do? Network, of course.

Networking is a powerful tool, but it’s also a delicate process. Once I taught my client how to do it correctly and effectively, she made key contacts at many of those publications…

Knowledge is power— am I right?

If you’re looking to break into the underground job market, here are a few common mistakes to avoid when you’re networking during a job hunt.

1. Don’t reach too high or too low on the totem pole.

When you’re trying to build relationships and expand your network, you want to make sure your emails are as well targeted as possible. This means you should not reach out to the top dog at a company, unless that’s truly the person who would be hiring you — your true potential boss. The same goes for HR. You don’t want to reach out to the head of HR, but you also don’t want to reach out to the HR assistant. An HR manager is always a good level. It’s always effective to try and find the right HR person who would potentially be recruiting for your role.

2. Don’t write a novel.

An email is no place to build a relationship. It’s just a place to schedule meetings. No one wants a novel length email — and I mean no one. Bonding over email is not effective. Always see email as a scheduling vehicle to hop on the phone or grab coffee. Email is not where you bond.

3. Don’t emphasize your job hunt.

When cold emailing on the job hunt, avoid using the word “job” or “job hunt,” because it just feels asky. A lighter word like “transition” works well here, as it still gets the point across that you’re seeking a new role, but it’s light and implies no favors.

4. Don’t go overboard in explaining your availability.

Even if you’re in a demanding job and are not totally available to go in and out as you please when it comes to networking, you can still clarify your availability without being superfluous. Go no further than one sentence with clear availability. For example: “My work schedule permits availability for coffee in the mornings (8-10 am) or calls during lunch (12-2 pm).” If your availability varies day by day, try to pick a couple of days that have recurring availability to make it simple.

5. Don’t include your resume.

Unless there’s a job at the company that you’re actively applying for, an email to set up a networking meeting is not the appropriate time to flash your resume (yet). Your main goal is to build a relationship with players in your field who have the potential to help you infiltrate the underground job market. Shoving your resume in their face before your meeting is not going to make them want to send it off to their list of contacts.

You can’t give your job search 100% if you only have access to 20% of available jobs.

Building a network is one of the most valuable investments you could possibly make when it comes to your job search. It’s the difference between putting yourself up against every other candidate, or positioning yourself so that when a job becomes available, a contact in your network reaches out to you directly and asks you to come in.

As for that client of mine who thought none of her favorite pubs were hiring? She’s deciding between two offers.

This first appeared in Forbes.

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