This post is Part 4 in our 7 part series on how to manage your job search.

So I have to admit that writing this blog post took longer that I expected and I guess it reflects the difficulty of the subject matter. Making contact with colleagues, friends and other acquaintances in looking for a job is difficult, delicate and not what you would expect if you haven’t done it before. But before we get to how you go about doing this, let’s first talk about why:

According to a 2009 survey by Career Crossroads, 38% of all jobs get filled from candidates that are already known to the company. Only 8% get filled by candidates that sent their resume in without an introduction. So, are you better off sending your resume in the hopes of hearing something back or are you better off investing some time and effort to network so that your resume gets a warm introduction?

Clearly the answer is to get the warm introduction wherever possible, but how do you do that? That’s where networking comes in – it is an attempt to get that introduction through one of your existing or new contacts. In our opinion, it’s definitely an art rather than a science as it requires you to be creative, diplomatic, and delicate in how you find/approach people. You need to be able to understand the strength of your relationship with each individual and gear your approach based on that, plus other considerations such as: how badly do you need them to introduce you; how many times have they helped you before; the last time you’ve talked to them and do you have something to share with them. If you have established a pattern over the years to show that you have reciprocated any assistance given or kept in touch with people, then you’ll likely be helped. Otherwise it may take some time and effort in order to re-establish those relationships and politely ask them to help.

LinkedIn is a great tool to help you manage your professional relationships, but it too requires time and energy over a prolonged period in order to help. LinkedIn helps you understand how you are connected to companies in your Target list. Even with tools like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook at your disposal, you’ll still have to manage it all yourself and keep track of your contacts and the result of conversations. In some cases you might already know people at the company. In others, you’ll have to carefully work your network to get to the hiring manager. In most cases though, you’re probably no more than 3 steps away from someone at that company. Start with the people you know best, but don’t expect a response from everyone – move on to the next person who will bring you one step closer to the company.

There may be cases where you’ll have to reach outside of your network altogether in order to reach someone at the company. In these circumstances we recommend understanding where people from that company might hang out. Remember face-to-face meetings are best where you can establish a personal relationship so whether it be a coffee house, a professional club or another social setting, you need to put yourself in situations where you can meet these people and where they too are more open to meeting new people.

But make sure to stay open to exploring new opportunities during these conversations as that’s the best way to uncover the hidden job market.

Step 5: You’ve made contact with the hiring manager, now what?

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