The Networking Conversation
When conducting a job search, networking does not mean asking people to find you a job; it means engaging your network of professional contacts to help you find professional possibilities. In the end, you will identify and target a specific job and introduce yourself to an employer through personal meetings and your résumé. Occasionally, a network member may intervene directly with an employer for you, but this is not common.
Use your network to contact specific people in an organization of interest. Ask them about the job and to give you an idea of corporate or institutional values. Ask positive, supportive network members if they'd be willing to speak up for you and serve as references. If they are, give each of them a copy of your targeted résumé and the specific opening for which you are applying. When researching companies and openings through your network, ask open-ended questions.
Questions to Ask
You need to be careful when asking questions about your fit for a particular job, so they don't seem like you are asking for a job.
Networking is critical to your career development and growth, and involves much more than the occasional phone call. The idea is to continually nurture your professional relationships, to help them and have them help you. If you think of your job search as a marketing exercise - selling your skills and abilities as a potential employee - then your professional network is the target for your market development.
About the Company
- Who does the company consider to be its competition?
- What makes this company different from their competition?
- How would you describe the culture of this company?
- If you could change one thing about this company, what would it be?
About the Job
- What does your typical day look like?
- What are your main responsibilities?
- What do you do that isn't necessarily part of your job description?
- With which other departments do you interact the most?
- Do you travel? How much? Does the company cover attending professional meetings?
About the Person
- What do you like best about your job? What do you find most challenging?
- How did you get your job? What would be the next step in your career?
About Job Fit
(a.k.a. "Is the job right for me?")
- What are some typical entry-level job titles and functions?
- What kind of advice do you have for someone pursuing a job in this area?