Scroll. Click. Send. Wait. Disappointment.
Job searching in the digital age is complicated. While job candidates can simply apply to opportunities with a click of a button, it rarely yields interviews and offers.
Many job candidates who apply to several dozen jobs are often confused about why they receive no call backs. The cause is almost always due to a lack of networking. Face-to-face and digital connections are still the number one way job seekers secure new opportunities.
From an early age, we learn that connections matter and relationships can make or break career success. Networking can deter job seekers who presume it’s an act with selfish intentions. In reality, networking is a way to build authentic, professional relationships based upon an area of mutual interest. The key to networking in the job search is to start before submitting an application! Connections, built over time, lead to job opportunities. Tools like LinkedIn and Facebook make it easier to connect with like-minded individuals to enrich one’s career.
However, where networking sites succeed as a way to start relationships, they fail to offer tangible strategies to maintain relationships. Often it is in managing the relationship where many job seekers struggle. Simply connecting with somebody will rarely lead to job opportunities. Lack of follow up is problematic to employers, who often track on-going communication with potential job candidates to gauge interest and fit.
A few networking-related tips could help you increase your success and confidence when applying to jobs.
First, do your research.
While applying to jobs take merely a second, the job seeker must spend more time engaging with the company through strategic research, connecting with employees, and following up after the application. Online resources such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn make industry data more transparent, allowing job seekers to view a list of employees and their job titles, salary reports, and potential interview questions. Sadly, only a fraction of job seekers conduct this research and use it to enhance their application materials. Those who do dramatically surpass their peers in the application to interview ratio.
Second, reach out to your inner circle (and their inner circle) when applying for jobs.
If you find yourself stuck in a job search, think of the people in your inner circle-- family, friends, professional contacts, and acquaintances such as neighbors, teachers, and group affiliations (church, gyms, etc.) and contact them online. Now, think about who they know online and ask for an introduction. The connections of your connections often make the most impact in your future search. Once you have made these connections, make sure to follow up.
Third, even though you want one, don’t ask for a job!
Use LinkedIn to search for people with whom you have no direct connection with and reach out with a question or two. The trick is to avoid asking how that individual can help you land a job, a transactional approach. If a potential connection doesn’t respond within two weeks, don’t give up—follow up! Revisit your question and, if they are to unable help, ask if they can refer you to someone who can.
In the digital age, technology is an incredible asset in finding career fulfillment, but we can’t let its simplicity trick us into believing it’s that easy. Although opportunity exists at our fingertips, it requires action on behalf of the candidate and beyond the keyboard. Keep these three steps in mind as you plan out your next job search—they may save you time and effort!
Allie Grill is Associate Director of the Career Development Center and teaches for the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University.