A successful job search requires a successful strategy. We’ve heard it so many times that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Well, knowing something does help get you places. With that being said, let’s focus more on the who you know aspect of that popular saying. People still hold on to linear expectations for their job search process accepting beliefs such as applying to a ridiculous amount of jobs to get one interview. That works for some people and if that’s your path embrace it. However, cultivating relationships goes a long way, especially for landing a career you actually enjoy versus a job just to get paid. Even if you already have a job (even if it’s barely tolerable) the idea of cultivating relationships can prove to assist you in your long-term career aspirations.
Over time your skills will develop and so should your network. Attend events and reach out to people who are doing work you’re interested in. This can be done online and eventually lead to meeting in person. This can be ensured by simply creating a habit of positioning yourself in places to meet new people at least once a month. By the end of the year, you would have developed 12 new contacts which increase your chances of entering their social circles. And you could reach out to more than 1 person a month, maybe 1 person a day, but even that would burn me out. I’m curious about other people and their professions, but not that curious.
As I mention the frequency of the number of people you meet — also keep in mind the quality of conversations you have with these individuals. I’m not implying you’re going to make best friends with each person you contact, but maintaining these relationships are going to require more than just the usual surface level banter. Continue engaging your community by asking questions about your genuine curiosities.
This may come easy to extroverted people, but being an introvert isn’t an excuse for having a crumbling social network. As someone who identifies as an introvert, my strategy has been to reach out to fewer people, but the people I do reach out to — I’m genuinely interested in getting to know. These people usually have strong networks that they introduce me to and vice versa. That way I’m not exhausting myself by reaching out to so many people and burning my emotional reserves trying to compute what people are saying, because quality listening takes work, and words can really get in the way of what people are saying. All in all, it isn’t about how huge your social network is, but the quality of people in it. Quality over quantity.
Now that we’ve addressed the relationship aspect, look for jobs you’re interested in and check their requirements and assess how you line up with it. Don’t make this specific to one position, but as you look around at multiple positions with similar titles you will see a thread of skills that you should start aligning yourself with. Is there a certain type of software most of these jobs have in common? Learn it. Is there a certain type of experience they’re seeking? Get it (even if you have to go volunteer and get the experience for free; you can view it as an investment). Take a look at the skills and experiences you currently have and if it’s not in alignment with the requirements of the job, then get to work on aligning yourself.
Use LinkedIn. People are more willing to help out than you’d imagine, especially if you’re not trying to sell them on anything, just ask questions; know what you need and seek the help.
Now you have your network, skills/experiences, and social media strategy. I suggest not setting a deadline, but embracing your process without time constraints, and watch as the opportunities flow in. Implement this strategy and allow everything to unfold naturally. Now, go be great!