Guidance on how to ramp up your networking efforts during a career change
One of the most effective ways of making a career change is by leveraging the network of professional contacts you’ve built up over the years as an experienced professional. To help you understand how to fully utilize your network during this transition, Lead Experienced Recruiting Specialist Erika Girard, Deloitte Services LP, offers some perspective to consider.
Question: What advice would you give someone who, perhaps, hasn’t had to rely on networking to secure job leads or professional contacts? What might be a good first step for the individual?
Answer: If you’ve not done so already, you should consider creating a profile on a business social media channel. If you do have a profile, make sure it is up to date with your experience and information. Once you do this, here are some thoughts on how you might engage with other professionals on that channel or site:
- Connect with former bosses, colleagues and friends by sending private messages or emails.
- Add a personal note for each person. Make it specific to something you had in common in the past.
- Be direct about your goal to increase your professional network.
Question: How can a candidate maintain or even grow their network over time and in light of a career change?
Answer: Over time it is important to keep in touch with former colleagues or friends. There are a few ways that I would recommend trying to stay connected, including:
- “Following” the company a former colleague and I had in common.
- Sharing articles that come out that would interest the person are a great way to reach out to stay in touch. Forward the article or link with a quick note.
- Sending an email to let them know you saw a specific post, link, or article from the former company, industry or personal connection that you have in common.
When making a career change, consider maintaining your network from your previous roles. If you have stayed in touch with them over time, you can then reach out to them and let them know that you are looking into a career change and would love if they could assist in any way by introducing you to people in their networks.
Question: Does a career change into a completely different field mean you need to find a whole new list of people with whom to network?
Answer: No, you have a past connection with the people in that network and you don’t know when they can help you or you can help them as things change.
Question: What are activities to avoid in terms of managing your network?
Answer: I think that one of the important parts of networking is to be sincere and to not only reach out when something is needed. Stay in touch out of a genuine interest in the person/company and your connection to them. When you do need their help, be direct. Don’t try to disguise a request for help, it may come across as insincere. And if you are networking well, the people you ask for help will likely gladly assist you. Networking often is a give and take relationship over the course of time.
Question: It’s been said that the majority of experienced professional jobs are found via referrals? What is the secret to this?
Answer: When a recruiter gets a referral for a role, often the referrer knows something about the candidate that may set that person apart from the group of applicants. And in a job market that still sees many applicants per each job posting, standing out is a bonus. When a candidate is submitted as a referral, you likely have a better chance of the fit for both the candidate and the company to be a match.
So ideally, if the people in your network know your personality, work habits, past experience, etc. and they refer you to a role, it will likely be a good match for you and the company. Even if you end up being referred through a chain of people, again, hopefully there is some insight to your preferences in your job search.