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Exploit the power of your network


Boozy, schmoozy lunches are a thing of the past, says Heather Townsend. Today's networkers use their personal, professional & on-line network to get ahead.

I would place a large bet that your network will play a significant part in you gaining your next role. If 80% of all vacant roles are not published then this means that potentially 80% of people find their next role via their network. All too often I work with career transition clients who are only relying on recruitment consultants to find their next role. This and applying to job ads on places like Monster, The Changeboard  and Simply HR jobs is one of the most inefficient ways of finding your next job.
So how do you use your network to find your new role?

1. Be clear on what you are looking for

Focus and motivation are two factors which separate the successful job seeker from the unsuccessful job seeker. If you are going to use the power of your network to find your next role you need to be very clear and disciplined about how many people you talk to and what you talk to them about.

2. Exploit the power of LinkedIn

I read somewhere recently that LinkedIn is becoming the new Monster for recruiters looking for suitable professional candidates. According to the stats peddled on LinkedIn a new member joins approximately every second, and current membership levels are at 46 million in over 200 countries. I think that, probably without  exception, every recruiter of professional staff is on LinkedIn and extensively uses it to search for suitable candidates.
It goes without saying that your profile on LinkedIn needs to be immaculate – but branded for the role you want, rather than the role you have now. I am sure many people will disagree with me, but the LinkedIn profile is fast becoming the online CV. If you are looking for a new role, you owe it to yourself to make sure your profile stands out for positive reasons – for example, do take the time to gain recommendations from your contact list, as these do make you stand out from your peers. Similar to electronic CVs you need to make sure you LinkedIn profile is peppered with keywords relevant to the type of roles you are looking for. One suggestion is that you use the ‘summary box' to write your personal elevator pitch and the specialties field to list your technical expertise, as many recruiters will use this field to search profiles on.

3.  Get out there

There is no substitute for pressing the flesh and working your way through your little black book. Write a list of everyone that you know personally and professionally. Then, divide your list into three categories – likely to help, not sure if can help, unlikely to help. However, do not discount the people in the ‘unlikely to help’ category, they may someone that knows someone that knows someone who can help you. For example, I have helped someone I have met through a playgroup I attend to get a role at a local accountancy firm. Create an Excel spreadsheet with all your contacts and update it as you contact everyone on your list – but maintain more frequent contact with people in the ‘likely to help’ and ‘not sure if can help’. As you speak with all your contacts make sure you ask the question – ‘who can you recommend that I talk with who can help me?’

4. Become very close to your recruitment consultants

When a recruitment consultant gets briefed about a role, you need to be top of their mind. To be top of their mind you need to be a person rather than just a CV. So, how do you do this? What worked for me was when I saw a role advertised, phoning the agent direct and talking them through my personal elevator pitch, before sending them through my CV. This approach guaranteed myself getting onto the agency’s books. Once I was properly established on an agency’s books I would phone them a minimum of fortnightly to re-establish contact.

5. Be open to possibilities

About a month ago I received a speculative application for my business. At that point in time I was not recruiting, but after receiving the letter I rang the letter writer directly – offering to have a conversation and saw an interesting opportunity to expand my personal network. The letter writer never returned my call. How likely am I going to be to want to work with this person in the future? Be prepared to face rejection in your job search – but always be open to possibilities and to have a conversation. You never know where or what it may lead to....
Read the other features in Heather's series:

Heather Townsend is the driving force behind The Efficiency CoachTM. She is a highly experienced corporate, career and executive coach with over 10 years experience in many diverse businesses including Tesco, Procter & Gamble, BDO Stoy Hayward LLP. Heather blogs at and can be contacted by email at

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