What to Say to Hiring Manager When Networking

If you are searching for a new job, networking – whether in-person or online – is a vital component. Countless positions are filled each year from direct referrals, which means you should be letting friends, family members, and former colleagues know you are “in pursuit” (providing it won’t impact your current job, if you are employed).

While people seem to understand the importance of networking, most have told me that when they have an opportunity to speak with a hiring manager, they go blank. I get it – all those imaginary conversations you have had with your mirror and in your head suddenly disappear, and you’re not quite sure how to approach the elephant in the room (hire me, please – I’d be perfect)!

Here’s what you should do:

1.) If networking in-person, remain professional, yet friendly and approachable, and follow the hiring manager’s cues.

Do not “charge” the hiring manager by discussing your need for a job and how you desperately want to work for their company. It comes across as aggressive, and places the manager in an uncomfortable position. I recommend following the manager’s social cues, listening intently to what they have to say and responding appropriately. If the opportunity presents itself, let them know what it is you do and how you are currently searching for a job, then allow them to lead. If they move forward with the conversation, great – but if not, take a step back – you have still done your part.

2.) Have an elevator pitch practiced and ready for when you are placed in such social situations.

Have a quick response prepared so that when you are provided with the opportunity to network with a hiring manager, your response flows naturally. Your statement should be short and sweet, yet detailed. For example:

I’m a Marketing Manager with 12 years of experience running integrated campaigns for some national brands. I have taken a little over a year off to stay home with my daughter, but am ready for the full-time work force and actively seeking a new position.

It is acceptable to inquire about any present or future openings, politely asking for them to keep you in mind. You can even follow up by providing a copy of your resume or connecting with them on LinkedIn.

3.) When contacting a hiring manager online, be courteous.

If you are on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is optimized by utilizing various keywords, listing accomplishments and work history, and obtaining recommendations from past and present colleagues. When ready, follow various companies of interest and join numerous industry specific groups to help expand your network. You can then connect with hiring managers by saying:

Hi Denise,

I am reaching out to others within my industry and thought it made sense for us to connect. Open to new opportunities – 10+ years of successful marketing experience. Appreciate your time!

Best Regards,

4.) Be mindful of what not to say…

Never speak ill of a past or present employer. Your search for a job (if employed) is merely because you are interested in new opportunities, or changes happening within your current company. Anything otherwise would be viewed as a red flag.

If you are having trouble networking, or with your job search overall, my comprehensive training program at The Job Search School can provide you with a personalized job search plan, as well as with the tools necessary to land your dream job. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

To a successful job search!

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