5 min read
So far in my Writing Secrets for Job Hunters series I’ve covered how to craft resumes that outsmart screening software, and major cover letter mistakes to avoid. And these things are certainly important to show potential employers that you know your stuff and how to market yourself.
But here’s a statistic for you:
80% of jobs are landed through personal connections, not job banks.
Which means that…
Only 20% of jobs are landed through job banks.
That’s an awful lot of resumes sent and lost in the void.
While I know plenty of people who have landed jobs though job banks, I know more who have networked their way to career success.
Here are a few ways to use writing techniques that skirt around the job banks, make connections, and have the potential to put yourself in front of hiring managers.
Write and Print Business Cards
Even if you’re an unemployed new grad or considering changing fields, you can write and print a business card for your desired field.
Having one at the ready to exchange at networking events, or even unexpectedly (I’ve bumped into people and given mine out at bookstores before) shows that you’re serious about landing work in your desired field.
As a fresh grad straight out of a publishing program, I went with a fellow-grad to an editing networking night. My friend had her business cards ready to go (printed from her home computer) and started chatting someone up.
She left with a job lead and was hired very soon after as a proofreader for a great medical tech company. It was my crash course in being prepared, and that, yeah, networking works.
Follow Up After Networking Events
It’s a surprisingly simple step that many people don’t do. You have business cards that you’ve gathered after a networking event, but you let them collect dust instead of work for you.
Instead, use those cards to grow your network, and maybe even arrange an introduction to someone at your desired company.
After you network, connect on LinkedIn.
- Example LinkedIn invitation:
It was really great to get a chance to talk last week at the Floral Marketing panel. Since we’re both in the flower business, it’d be great to get a chance to meet up again in person. Please feel free to check out my connections on LinkedIn and let me know if I can introduce you to anyone. I also post pretty frequently in the Flower Power Marketing group here on LinkedIn. I find it pretty helpful.
- Example simple email follow up:
Hi Lynda, I was glad to meet you last week at the EdTech Connection event! Good luck with your new site design!
That way, they are now your connections, and you can keep up with them as you’d like.
But, if you chatted with someone who you think might be able to link you with a job, or introduce you to someone at a company where you really want to work, send something stronger.
- Example stronger email follow up:
I was so glad to meet you last week at the EdTech Connection event! I hope things are going well for you overseeing the site redesign.
I remember we chatted about the email automation services but I couldn’t remember the name of the company I used before. Turns out it was Company XYZ. They do a great job. Highly recommended.
I hope we can connect again soon at another event. I’m thinking of going to the X Event in January since there’s a panel on Higher Ed course development.
Please keep me in mind if you hear about any instructional design opportunities that might come up at your company. And certainly let me know if I can introduce you to any of my connections.
I’ll probably reach out in another month or so, if you don’t mind.
Email Friends, Neighbours, and former colleagues
Simply reaching out to friends and neighbours can be a great way to get job leads. Often we forget about these people as potential employment resources. Or sometimes we’re embarrassed or ashamed of looking for work. Maybe we were laid off, or maybe we just have a lot of pride.
But the fact is, that in today’s economic climate, many people will be laid off at least once. (I certainly have been, and so have many of my friends and colleagues.) Uncertainty is just part of the landscape these days. And letting people know you’re looking for work is completely acceptable.
Important: Don’t mass send career lead emails to friends or neighbours. Keep these emails personal and send them one-on-one to reduce the bystander effect. Also, don’t just say “I’m looking for work.” Specify what type of work and which ideal companies.
- Example email for a job seeker who’s making geographic change:
I hope you’re well! It was nice to see you at the picnic in July.
I’m reaching out because as you know I’ve been working at Organizer X for 2 years now. I love my company, my job, and have made a lot of great connections. However, I’m planning a big move at the end of the year. Montreal! So I’m looking to make some connections and job leads there.
I’m reaching out to you because you’ve always been supportive of my career in the past so I thought of you when brainstorming my next big move.
I’ve been doing research and it looks like there are some companies in Montreal that I’d be a great fit for. I’m looking for Agile Project Management work, ideally with Company A, Company B, or Company C.
If you know anyone in those companies, I’d be grateful for an introduction.
- Example email, for someone who just experienced a layoff:
I hope you’re well! It was nice to see you at Darla’s party in Feb.
I’m reaching out because as you might not know, I was laid off from Company X two weeks ago. It’s been tough and scary, but I’m determined to keep a positive outlook as I look for a new job. I’m trying to see it as the beginning of a new chapter.
I’m reaching out to you because you’ve always been supportive of my work in the past so I thought of you when brainstorming my next big step.
I’ve been doing research and I have my heart set on some great companies that I’d be a great fit for. I’m looking for Agile Project Management work, ideally with Company A, Company B, or Company C.
If you know anyone in those companies, I’d be truly grateful for an introduction.
Note: I was originally going to include tips about how to use your writing skills to boost your LinkedIn profile, but in my research I realized there was too much to include. So stay tuned for that next week.
This has been the Part Three of my three-part series, Writing Secrets for Job Hunters. If you haven’t checked out my posts on giving your resume a fighting chance against the screening robots, click here. If you want to know the top cover letter mistakes to avoid, click here. Stay tuned for my post about snazzing up your LinkedIn profile. I’ll be posting that next week. Until then, happy hunting!
Source: Consulted the book 100 Conversations for Career Success for this post. All sample writing is my own.