If you're on the hunt for new career opportunities, don't overlook your best job search allies: your network of connections. It sounds like obvious advice when considering how to find a job. But it's a mistake many creative professionals make. Members of your network – former colleagues or managers, past clients, friends (and friends of friends), family members, and mentors – can offer valuable help. They can refer you to their contacts, keep an eye out for opportunities that might be right for you and act as references during your search.
Here's how to find a job by tapping your network:
1. Identify the right allies
Browse your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends and, most importantly, your list of in-person contacts. Highlight the people who work in your industry or area and pay special attention to those who currently work for companies on your target list. Identify how these key people can help. Are they connections who can link you to an opportunity? Mentors who can guide your search and offer career advice? Act as references that a prospective employer can call?
2. Ask for their help
This may be the toughest step in your creative job search, but it's essential. Your contacts won't know what your specific needs are unless you ask for their help. Be respectful of their time and straightforward in requesting their assistance, and let them know that it's OK if they're unable to help you for whatever reason.
3. Help them help you
When you've enlisted a contact in furthering your job search, give them your current resume and ask for feedback. Describe your ideal position and the skills you bring to the table. If you're asking them to make introductions or serve as a reference on your behalf, give them the information they need to effectively represent you.
When you've identified the right allies, asked for their help and given them the information they need, think about how to find a job with their assistance. There are a few ways your contacts may be able to help you:
- Hitch along to meetings. Can you attend networking events or local industry gatherings as their guest? You may discover companies that are hiring and make additional connections.
- Request informational interviews. Could your contact connect you with the creative director at the hottest agency in town? Is she able to set up a call with you and an in-house design manager? Informal conversations like these expand your network, clue you in to opportunities and let you practice your interview skills.
- Inquire about leads. Does your connection have his ear to the ground? Does he know who's hiring in the local creative community, or who just landed a big client and might be staffing up? Are there jobs out there that haven't yet been posted?
Finally, understand the karma of networking. It's all about being genuine and generous. Show sincere interest in the people you talk with, and be yourself. Express thanks to those you meet. And when someone asks for your advice on how to find a job in the creative field, be sure to return the favor by helping them with their search.