According to Wikipedia, a sales lead is “the identification of a person or entity that has the interest and authority to purchase a product or service.” So, recognizing that a job search is a sales process, a job lead is a connection to a hiring manager because hiring managers are the people with the authority to make job offers. But they are often not easy for job seekers to find. Penetrating through all the protective barriers to reach the hiring manager now takes a great deal of effort, determination, practice, and luck. Or a network connection!
5 Ways to Connect with Hiring Managers
Ideally, an employee (not on the HR staff) hands the hiring manager - or her boss - a copy of your resume. Here are 5 ways to find that Very Important Person who helps you make that connection to the right job for you:
1. Networking Through Your High School, College, University, and/or Graduate School
Regardless of how long ago you attended the school, most colleges and universities have alumni associations, often with career services and other alumni support.
Look for fellow alums who are working in your target profession / industry and/or for your target employer. A quick way to find them is through LinkedIn. Simply search on the school name in Advanced People Search and search for alumni groups in LinkedIn’s Group Directory. Check out Facebook Groups, too.
2. Networking Through Former Colleagues and Other Former Employees of Your Former Employers
For people who are not new grads, corporate alumni groups are excellent networks for careers. Find those former colleagues through social media and in face-to-face meetings like professional/industry association gatherings or alumni reunions. Like school alums, there is a common ground for discussion and connection among people who worked for the same employer, even years apart.
Again, search through LinkedIn’s Group Directory and Advanced People Search by employer name and check out Facebook, too. In addition, Job-Hunt has a directory of corporate alumni groups which also includes military and government organizations.
3. Networking Through Professional or Industry Associations
These can be gold mines for both professional growth and networking! Many associations have (no surprise) LinkedIn Groups where information is shared, events are promoted, and jobs are even posted.
Attend local events – bold job seekers who are experts on some relevant topic may speak at an event. Less bold job seekers can join the program committee to help plan programs, meet other committee members, and grow their network.
Many, if not most, professional associations have job boards connected to their websites. Usually, these job boards are free for both members and non-members to use, and the jobs posted there may not be widely posted elsewhere. See Job-Hunt’s Directory of Professional and Industry Associations which links both to the association and also to their job board.
4. Networking Through Informational Interviews
This is often a misunderstood and badly used method, but it is so successful when done correctly, as originally described by Dick Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? Like an industry or professional association, information interviews can be an opportunity to learn and to network at the same time.
Informational interviewing can also help a job seeker avoid a mistake – like working in the wrong job or for the wrong employer. Remember, this is research, not a job interview. Do not hand over a resume during an informational interview
I have spoken to several job seekers who practiced Dick’s classic approach to great success. They learned a great deal and made connections that ended up helping them land a job.
- Approach “workers” not hiring managers.
- Prepare a list of questions for the interview, like: How did you get into this field? What do you like most about this job?
- Limit the interview to 20 minutes or less.
5. Networking Through Other Local Groups
See last week’s post, Better Than a Job Board: Local Networking Groups for more ideas, like MeetUp.com and more.
Networking is the most effective way to land a job. Job boards have millions of job postings available today, but the best way to use them is for research – what jobs are growing in demand, who is hiring what, where. See Indeed.com’s Trends for excellent analysis of Indeed’s gigantic database of job postings.
© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.