It's Both What You Know and Who You Know

by Rolie, M.A., CVC, Linda K. Friday, November 09, 2007
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You have heard, "It is not what you know but who you know" that gets the job. Networking is the most successful resource for career transition. Networking requires making personal contact with people and telling them you are looking for a job, asking for references, and making connections.

Over 80% of the good jobs are located through networking to uncover the hidden job market. Networking requires getting out and about, rubbing elbows and bumping shoulders with people, and getting personal referrals. It requires using the telephone and introducing yourself. In order to get a job introduction, investigate how you can get acquainted with the person in charge of hiring.

Less than 20% of job openings are advertised and filled through newspaper wants ads, state employment departments, employment agencies or staffing companies. An even smaller percentage of job openings are filled through state, federal or civil service (non-uniformed federal workers), or by mailing resumes at random. In spite of the recent hype, Internet job banks fill less than 10% of job openings. The problem with limiting your job search to these resources is that 100% of the job seekers are applying for less than 20% of the job openings. If you want a job, networking is the required footwork. Identifying specific job interests and networking, including going directly to organizations that employ people in those areas, get the best results!

The telephone is the most basic tool used to speak with people who can support you in your job search to obtain information, advice, and ideas as well as a method to gain connections. Through talking with people over the telephone, you just might land the perfect opportunity.

At first, making telephone calls can be difficult and awkward. It can feel like "picking up a 10,000-pound telephone." Fear is probably the number one reason people avoid making telephone calls: fear of rejection, feelings of insecurity when trying to find solid ground, fear of the unknown, fear about the person on the other end of the telephone line, and fear of intimidation. You want your first impression to be a good one. Pick up the telephone and give it your best shot. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Show courage in the midst of feeling fear. Positive impressions are made by voices that sound confident, warm, friendly, patient, and enthusiastic. Fake it until you make it.

In order to become effective with using the telephone for job search, use some techniques to get the best results. Identify the people or organizations you are familiar with and want to talk to in order to gain information. Get a list of employers from the library, Chamber of Commerce, or www.QualityInfo.com. Connections include friends, relatives, neighbors, professional associates, former coworkers and supervisors, religious or social affiliates, lawyer, insurance agent, homebuilder, accountant, former competitors, or customers.

Prepare your telephone introduction like a well-practiced "commercial introduction" which describes your skills set. Keep a script near your telephone to help guide you. You will be better prepared if you have your resume, cover letter, and references documents available.

Briefly tell people you are going through career transition and are seeking information. Be organized and clear in presenting the nature of the call and your goals. Ask for referrals to talk to somebody who can help you. Keep a list of the names of people and organizations to whom you are referred. Research reveals if you do this 21 to 23 times, you will land a job.

When you get an idea or thought to call someone, do it! It is alright to feel nervous or insecure but make the telephone call anyway. Acknowledge your fear and BREATHE.