How to job search in a downturn

In normal times the power of the hidden jobs market and connections made through your personal networks are by far the most effective way of securing a new position.

During a downturn when available candidate volumes are significantly greater avoiding searching in the open jobs market takes on an even greater importance.

In 1973, Mark Granovetter a sociologist at John Hopkins University wrote a now-famous paper called “The Strength of Weak Ties.”

The key learning which applies particularly well to networking to secure a new job role is that people are more likely to adopt new ideas from acquaintances than from close friends.

The main reason for this stems from our need to communicate specifically and objectively with acquaintances such as former colleagues because we don’t rely on implicit or assumed knowledge that we share with close friends.

Secondly, more distant connections have a greater potential to exponentially connect you to a more diverse set of networks than your close friendship group.

To put this advice into practice, build lists of people you’ve worked with throughout your career and use network tools such as LinkedIn to explore and understand the types of roles, organisations and industries they’ve moved into since your initial connection.

Analyse your list looking to for ties in sectors that are likely to be stronger than most in the coming years and in which you would really like to work.

Next, rank everyone you’ve listed based on two factors:
  1. The attractiveness of the possibilities they can offer (given their company, role, and connections), and
  2. Their willingness to help you (which depends on the quality of your relationship, even if it was limited or distant).

Job searching can be a numbers game, but determinedly farming your existing network to identify options and opportunities remains the most certain way of securing a job that you’ll enjoy with less competition from other candidates and a greater likelihood of securing the salary package you’re seeking.

For practical support with your job search strategy and other career coaching activities, join our live coaching calls to benefit from the advice and guidance of our specialist team.