I sometimes share with my clients a paraphrased quote from former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, “Call early and call often.” Call your networking contacts early in the game and inform them of your job campaign. Tell them what you are looking for. Ask them to keep an ear out for any leads, and tell them you’ll be back in touch within a week. Then do it.
Ask if you can forward your resume in their preferred manner (just in case). Include a short note reminding them of your prior call. Give them permission to forward your resume to those who may be interested. If you are employed and under the radar, you’ll want to be discreet; in a full-scale job search where you’re unemployed, go for it!
Of course, don’t abuse those who would help you. Don’t ask your contacts for a job; ask for information and referrals. In poker terms, this would be lowering the ante; you don’t ask for the maximum stake put up before building the pot. Whether reaching out to contacts inside or outside employer organizations, ask for feedback, ideas, introductions to others, informational interviews, brief meetings, conversations, anything but a job. It puts them in an awkward position. With a lowered ante, your contact’s relief translates into a greater wish to help you.
If a targeted employer says they’re not hiring, you can do one of two things. Ask to interview anyway. “I appreciate that you don’t have a current opening, but I’d love to share what I offer. Then if you get an opening, you may think of me!” Or, you can ask for an informational interview about the position not open, the company, and the industry overall. It’s counterintelligence that helps you decide whether that place and opportunity align with what you want.
Leads lead to leads! Whether you have an opening or a lead to a lead on an opening, approach contacts the same way: Call and get the exact name, title, and get-ahold-of information for your key contact. If you are calling regarding a “no calls” posting, call, state your network connection, and proceed as though you had never seen this directive.
Don’t hesitate to navigate through a company at several levels and through multiple channels, especially large companies. I’ve had clients who received rejection notices after they’d already been hired!
Use calls to ask about hiring process. Be honest and transparent about who you are and what you want. You may be quite surprised by insiders’ willingness to help. Ask questions about criteria of a position. Ask about who’s deciding, how the interview round works, and everything you need to know to be a great candidate. Be respectful of their needs. Ask, “Is this a good time to ask a few brief questions, or should I call back?”
In 30 years of helping job seekers, those who get interviews most often, pick up the phone. The telephone really is your best friend.