Finding a job today isn’t a matter of what you know, but who you know. And despite this adage being trotted out more times than anyone can keep track, job seekers still aren’t paying as much attention to it as they should. It’s a valuable nugget that makes the difference between two candidates who are identical on paper, and now you can be the winning one, too. And if your criticism is that you don’t know enough people to network your way into a job, then the answer is this: take another look at your circle of friends, because they’re right in front of your eyes.
The Ambitious Friend
We all know a person like this: they want to go really far in life and won’t let anyone stop them. Their ambitions and goals don’t even have to be on the scale of climbing Mount Everest without oxygen, but rather what’s personally challenging on an individual basis. Say one of your friends had a problem with alcohol but kicked the habit by getting help, for example. That’s something that won’t make any headlines, but is a huge accomplishment for them. And that’s also the kind of friend you need to be around so their determination and sacrifice will help guide you in the right direction when it comes to proving yourself in the job search.
The Talkative Friend
There are people who know what small talk is, and then there are the people who walk into a room and leave being best friends with everyone. The latter is exactly the kind of friend you need to start taking notes around. Although they have this seemingly magical ability to walk up to just about anyone and have a great conversation, it’s not something that’s so rare you can’t attain it. Socially awkward people will read this and think, “But how am I just supposed to walk over to someone and say 'hi'?” That’s just it, you don’t think about it. Most people are just as nervous as you are to approach another, but everyone masks this really well. If you practice thinking of something really awesome — like saying yes to a six-figure job offer — that confidence will show on your face and impress people.
The Friend with Connections
Maybe you don’t have a solid Rolodex right now, but you can build one really quickly by becoming friends with the person who is at that stage. The key here is to be subtle about your desire to leverage their connections, and never outright ask. People never want to feel like they’re being used for their skills or possessions, and if you show a genuine interest in them, the chances of them opening their Rolodex are much, much higher. Take them out for coffee or lunch and say you want to pick their brain because of how much they’ve accomplished (remember, real flattery will get you pretty far), open up by talking about what you’re not doing right (this creates vulnerability and intimacy), and then ask them what advice they have.
The Childhood Friend
You and your childhood friend may have drifted apart or traveled on different routes, but you’re still in touch frequently through Facebook or LinkedIn. Despite both of you not necessarily sharing the same close bond when you were kids, there’s still a tie there that goes back decades and that can’t be understated. Your friend has seen you at your best and worst, and isn’t afraid to set you straight on what you should be doing. Having this kind of friend in your life is that magical ingredient you need so you can hone in on exactly what you’re doing right and wrong when it comes to applying for jobs.