When applying for jobs, you can network with various professionals in your industry. It is important to craft your messages carefully and keep track of your communications. As a job seeker, you want to collect the most accurate and complete information about a company. To do this, you must look beyond the job description, research the company’s reputation and try to speak with some of its past employees.
Here are some ideas to organize your networking efforts while applying for jobs.
Research possible employers
Keep a list of 30 to 50 target employers.
Prior to speaking with potential employers, do your research on Glassdoor, professional Facebook groups and email listservs like Copyediting-L. Then you can message the company’s past employees on LinkedIn with a brief summary of your findings and ask if it is accurate.
Apply the same approach to salary research: first look into industry resources to find the salary range, then ask past employees if it is accurate.
Connect with employees on LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, identify past employees of your target companies and invite them to connect with a personalized message.
Following these companies’ decision-makers, past employees and current employees will fill your LinkedIn feed with information from your potential employers: news, job ads, announcements of staff changes and more. Adding target employers to your LinkedIn is a recommended regular practice, whether or not the company has an opening that you are interested in at the moment.
This will help you in your company research. Companies monitor their online reputations, and sometimes what you can find online about a company is not enough to help you decide. When you invite past employees from your target companies to network with you, be sure to let them know that you are applying and would like to ask a few questions about their experience at the company.
Depending on your relationships with these past employees, you may initiate a written chat or a phone call. The important part is to be mindful of their time and show them that you are collecting information on your own initiative, making it easy for them to respond to you.
Connect with hiring professionals
You can also identify hiring professionals from your target companies and contact them with questions before applying.
It is a good idea to clarify the hiring process, timelines, requirements and anything else about the job that you need to know before applying.
Is this a unionized job, and if so, when was the collective agreement last negotiated and finalized? Is the organization planning changes to its work-from-home arrangement or new return-to-work policies in the coming months? How long, on average, is their hiring process? Who will be your interviewers or trainers? What software (client/project management systems, for example) do they use for your line of work?
Ask about anything you need to know to understand if you should be investing your time into this hiring process. This can include technologies, the size and composition of the team, hiring steps (including tests) and timelines, and unions. You can also ask for a sample of documents you will be working on (in a protected format that the company is comfortable sharing).
Follow up on your application
Depending on the situation and your knowledge of the company, decide how soon you want to follow up, if to follow up at all, and whom to follow up with.
I suggest following up within approximately five business days of your application.
Following up is recommended for several reasons: you can show the employer that you are still interested and available (not all of the candidates will be), you can offer additional information about your career (references, samples, etc.) and you can become a more visible and memorable candidate.
There is no specific formula on how to follow up. However, it’s important to frame your follow-up not only as a way to get information for yourself (“When do you plan to make the interview decision?”) but also as a way to offer useful information to an employer. Use your own judgment and knowledge of the organization to offer additional information about your value and help them make the hiring decision.
Follow up with your network
Once you accept a new role, touch base with all the people you communicated with during your job search.
These may be your colleagues, employees from your target company, hiring managers you’ve met or executives. Contact them, let them know that you have accepted a new role, thank them for meeting you or chatting with you and indicate your interest in staying in touch and keeping each other in mind for business. Your colleagues may refer you to potential clients based on your specialization. Hiring managers or executives may keep you in their files for future roles.
Use your job search as an opportunity to grow your network and let more people know about your specialization(s) — and remember to maintain those relationships by getting in touch from time to time.
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