How to network yourself into a new job
Applying for legal jobs the traditional way typically puts you in a large pool with many other applicants who are vying for the same position. But senior colleagues or those at other firms might be aware of job opportunities before they become official. How should you put yourself out there?
Many solicitors are somewhat reluctant to network when looking for another job because they think they will appear pushy, self-serving or their connections will think they are using them to “pull some strings” to help them get a job. However, whether you realise it or not, you’re probably already networking every day, and everyone you meet can potentially help propel your job search forward.
The value of networking during a job search
Networking to find a job shouldn’t be about aggressively promoting yourself. It’s really nothing more than getting to know people and can be the best way to find a new job for several reasons:
Potential employers primarily do business with those they know and like, and CVs and cover letters alone are often too impersonal to get a jobseeker in the door.
Online job listings often draw dozens of candidates and competition for those jobs is extremely fierce, while networking can make you part of a much smaller applicant pool.
The position you’re looking for may not be advertised, and networking can give you a lead before a job opening is announced (this is the hidden job market).
Although most people still look for positions posted online, according to one report, between 70 and 80 per cent of job openings aren’t published. That’s why tapping into the hidden job market is often much more effective than searching online.
Tips on how to network your way to your next job
Although you might think you don’t know anyone who can help you find a new job, you know more people than you think, and there’s an extremely good chance that at least a few of your current connections can point you in the direction of your next position. Here are some tips regarding how to use your network to find a job:
Recognise the size and power of your current network. Regardless of your experience in the legal industry, you already belong to several networks – family, friends, colleagues – and your job search will naturally expand through these connections. Remember, each network connects you to another network, and each of your connections may know of an available job or is connected to someone who might.
Don’t hesitate to reach out. No matter how large your network is, it won’t matter if none of your connections know that you’re looking for a new job. Once you’ve made a list, start contacting the people in your network and let them know about your search, being specific about the type of position you’re looking for. Never underestimate your connections – the people they know might surprise you.
Focus on building authentic relationships. Networking involves making connections, sharing information, asking questions and relating to others. In any networking situation, your goal should be to convey your true interests and goals regarding your job search. Be specific in what you’re looking for: a reference, an introduction, a referral or insider information about a firm. Remember to ask for advice, not a job.
Networking is a two-way street, and your ultimate goal should be to build mutually beneficial relationships, not just get your next job. By nurturing your relationships throughout your job search and beyond, you’ll be well on the way to establishing a strong network of people you can go to for ideas, feedback and support on a long-term basis. pa