by Thomas E. Kenny.
You have followed the advice of career experts and have "dug the well before you're thirsty." Preparing for your next job search by continually building and strengthening the relationships of your professional network. However, now that you are in a job search, you may be wondering how to leverage that network!
Asking your network for job leads is not a best practice of professional networking. Instead you need to find and determine jobs that you are a match for and then find advocates to assist you.
There are two categories of advocates that will help you land your next position. Group A advocates are the stake holders in the candidacy and hiring process. Thus Group A will consist of recruiters, HR professionals and hiring mangers. While Group B advocates are your cheerleaders and advisers. This is important because your questions, interactions and relationship will differ between those two groups of advocates.
Once you have identified a position that you are interested in and are sure that you are a great match for, you need to identify your Group A advocates before you submit your value proposition (targeted cover letter and resume).
The number one best source for finding Group A advocates is LinkedIn. When performing a search for these advocates the following are useful keywords: Sourcing, Talent, HR, Human Resources, Recruiter.
However, if you don't find advocates on LinkedIn there are many other sources to search such as the company's web site, Manta, and other social networking sites. Also don't forget your offline network which may consist of family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances who may have connections at the target company.
It's also important to find Group B advocates at the target company since these people can help you understand the best way to position your skills, talents and experience. Each corporation has a different culture and processes, thus business intelligence on the most effective way to navigate the system of gate keepers is valuable information. I've known qualified candidates that were great matches for positions, but they missed out on opportunities, because they didn't present their skills in the proper manner for the target company. You need to speak their language and after all isn't that what a targeted resume is about!?
Once you've identified both Group A and B advocates for a position you'll be armed with the information and support system to most effectively get through the hiring process.
In conclusion, no matter what the out come of the process, remember that your advocates have exerted time and effort in assisting you, so be sure to thank them appropriately!