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The full-time job that is job seeking – effective networking!

Whether you’re looking to take the next step up the career ladder, looking for a change of direction, new challenges, dislike your boss…or simply a combination of all three..this series will provide with some tips to help with your job search.

Finding a new job is be a full-time job in itself and there are plenty of things you can get wrong, so we want you to do the best you can, in the time you have.

This week we’ll be looking at Networking:

Whilst your day job may keep you very busy, you should spend some time developing a strong network of peers and senior personnel within your industry.  It’s worth considering whether you want to focus on a particular industry sector (ie pharma, tech, financial services etc) and whether you’re looking for an SME role or for something more generalist and wide-ranging.  You can then tailor your networking/job seeking to your particular areas of interest.

Why are you doing this?  When you’re job seeking you can absolutely apply for roles you’ve seen via recruiters and adverts. However, there are still a large number of roles that are recruited for via word of mouth, so you’re increasing your chances of hearing about these positions, by interacting with more people in the sector. We often get CV’s sent to us by senior industry professionals who have been impressed by someone they’ve met and more often than not, they will also be sending these details through to their peers, who may also have opportunities within their own organisations.

An easy way to increase your networks is through the various industry associations (more to come on this in future weeks). But sometimes, it is prudent to track down specific individuals to start developing your network, in that particular market sector or field that interests you.  The important thing to remember here is that most people have been through the same process as yourself; people won’t be offended if you’re looking to develop your network….and if they are, all they’ll do is say no or simply ignore you!

Much like a cold approach from a salesperson, your approach still has to be thought out and ‘I’m looking for a new job’ may not get you far.  However, people are often happy to talk about what makes them successful, so asking about what they do, how and why they do it is often a better route to go.

It’s worth remembering that even if companies are competing, support functions aren’t and everyone in the same industry has the same issues; people are used to sharing their experiences.

The simplest first step into this is to talk to people you’ve worked with before in previous roles, or those coming from a similar background to yourself; if you’re ex Police, reach out to others with an ex-Police background.  The same applied for ex-military, intelligence or commercial backgrounds. However, don’t restrict yourself to those with the same background as yourself, getting a broad range of contacts is very useful.  It  may seem slightly counter-intuitive, but don’t be afraid to reach out to functional heads or other senior individuals, as they are often willing to ‘do their bit for the industry’ and supporting the growth of others is part of that.

Also make sure you always ask people who else they think you should speak to.  Once you start getting out and about you’ll probably hear the same names mentioned regularly. Whilst these industry ‘influencers’ may not be in the direct sector that interests you, they often will know a lot of people and have an ear for broader industry ‘gossip’…!

Whenever we go to a conference one of the things people comment on the most is the quality of the networking opportunities.  This isn’t just because people are happy to catch up with former connections (although that is always part of it!), it’s because they know the value of sharing coffee/alcohol and conversations with people in their field of expertise.

It pays to remember the old adage here, of nothing ventured…nothing gained!

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