Job hunting can be a disheartening business, particularly if you've been unemployed for some time or are just starting out. If you are struggling to get back into the job market, networking could be the answer, and these days there are more ways than ever to get connected.
The Internet offers a way of networking without even leaving the comfort of your home, and being able to show that you have been proactive will give a good impression to potential future employers or interviewers. Some firms even advertise jobs on social networks.
Before you start connecting with others in the same field, check your existing online presence. While it's good to be visible online, if a prospective employer can see details of your boozy night out with friends on Facebook, it might not go down so well. If needs be, update your settings on social networks to keep your private life private.
It's then a good idea to search sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for companies or professionals that are working in the field you would like to enter, and blogs can be another great way to find individuals or organisations that you think might be able to help in future. You can then set up your own Twitter account and join LinkedIn, knowing the sorts of people or groups you might be able to connect with.
LinkedIn is commonly used by job seekers, whether they're switching to a new field or looking to climb the ladder, but make sure you include a full profile. As your contacts list grows, you will find that many professionals are only too happy to help if you have any questions, and can offer advice. Don't forget to share relevant information either, to show that you are interested and serious about your future career.
It may take a little time before your online networking bears fruit, but it can open many doors if you stick with it.
Professional associations exist for a wide range of job sectors and industries, and these can be great places to research jobs, news and find potential networking contacts. Some may even offer access to events and conferences if you sign up as a member.
If you're fresh out of college, careers events and fairs are always worth attending. The employers that attend such events may offer graduate training or jobs and, once again, are only too willing to offer advice to those interested in working in their field. Try to do a little research ahead of time if you know which firms will be attending, and go prepared with relevant questions that show you have done your homework.
Not all companies will offer work experience, but those that do can provide useful contacts for the future, some of whom you may end up working with again. If you manage to land some work experience, whether via online networking or by other means, make the most of it and try to keep in touch with colleagues that you meet there. If nothing else, a period of work experience looks good on your CV and the fact that you have are willing to work and learn will impress potential employers.
Networking may take time and effort, but the benefits can be great. Be proactive and start connecting - you never know where it may lead.
Which methods do you use for careers networking, and what advice would you give to jobseekers? Leave your comments below...