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People find new opportunities through the Hidden Job Market: vacancies that aren't publicly listed or advertised with recruiters but instead are filled through internal candidates or referrals.
"There's a lot of positions — at least 60%, I'd say — that never make it to the public, which really surprises a lot of people," Bentley adds.
Make a short list of companies you want to work for — no more than 10 — and let that list guide your search.
Then, figure out who the decision-makers at those companies are. That's because companies want to hire people who have a strong, veritable interest in their business, Bentley explains — and as a jobseeker, it is much easier to build relationships if you are thoughtful and intentional in your search instead of copying and pasting the same outreach message to 50 people.
"Even if they don't have an immediate opening, it's not to say that in a few weeks or months someone will get promoted or quit," he says. "If you're on their radar, you'll be at the top of their hiring list."
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Most of your networking, however, should stem from names on your target list of companies you want to work for: the recruiters, hiring managers, potential co-workers and higher-ups you'd work with.
Even if there's no current openings that fit your experience and interests or you don't have anything in common with this person right off the bat, "it's important to share why you're reaching out … what, specifically, is compelling about their career or their company to you?" Bentley says.
In your initial outreach, you also want to explain "what solutions you can bring to the table and how you could solve problems for them or strengthen existing processes," he says.
Choose three specific skills, milestones or experiences to highlight in your elevator pitch that would really add value to the organization, Bentley advises, then end with the following script:
"While I don't see an opening for [insert dream job here] right now, I just wanted to introduce myself and what my specialization is, in case future opportunities arise. I'm always looking to connect with like-minded professionals in [insert field here]. In case you're interested in connecting, here's how you can reach me!"
"Putting in the time and effort to form deep connections, and approaching networking from the perspective of how you can contribute to the organization and make it stronger, will help you stand out in the search compared to all of the other applicants who are really just focused on their wants," he says.
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