How to Get a Job Without a Professional Network

When I moved to New York, one thing I really didn’t account for was losing my professional network. I knew I would be devastated from moving away from friends who were like family, but I wasn’t even thinking of the professional network I would leave behind. Even though I was at the bottom of the corporate ladder when I moved to New York, I felt the impact of not having any connections in my field or at other companies.

How to Get a Job Without a Professional Network

Having a professional connection can:

  1. Provide you with more information about what an employer is looking for.
  2. Give you insight about what a job would entail
  3. Help you determine if it would be a good fit.
  4. Vouch for your skills and character.

Many career advice professionals say your network is the fast track to career success. And I agree, but sometimes that just isn’t an option, especially if you’ve just moved to a new city and don’t know anyone.

So, is it possible to get a job in NYC (or anywhere) without a professional network?

Absolutely, it will just be harder and take a little longer.

The strongest benefit of a professional network is finding someone who can vouch for you to a potential employer. While nothing can beat a personal testimony, there are a few things you can do to try to show “on paper” how reliable and talented you are.

Remember, your network isn’t everything. I’ve interviewed for jobs where I actually had connections and still didn’t get the position.

The key to finding a job without a network connection is all about building the same type of legitimacy as a candidate that a network referral would give you. Here are a few tips to show you how to do that and help you get a job without a professional network.

Make Your Resume and Cover Letter Vouch For You

If you’re trying to get a job without a professional network, your resume and cover letter have to take on the role of “talking you up” to a potential employer. So make sure they sing. Fill your resume with achievements, not just responsibilities. Use active voice and talk about what you accomplished. There is a lot of great advice on the internet on how to write your resume. I recommend following Career Contessa’s advice on cover letters and resumes.

Have an Online Presence

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of having an online portfolio as a job seeker. You want to make it as easy as possible for recruiters to research you, and a professional website can add additional depth to your application, while showcasing your talents and personality in a portfolio. I’ve been on a few hiring committees and I always looked at the applicant’s website if they had one. It can really set you apart. Learn how to get started with your own online portfolio here.

Clean Up Your Social Media

Do your social media profiles reflect who you are as a professional? It’s not uncommon for recruiters to take a peek at your social media accounts during the hiring process, especially if you’re not coming from a network referral.

Depending on the type of work you’re hoping to attract, you can use your social media profiles to share intelligent and engaging industry news. If that’s not your thing, at the very least update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your resume. And put a privacy setting on your Instagram and Facebook.

Nail the references

If you’re interviewing for a job and you don’t have a professional connection to the employer, you need to make sure your references are strong. References help put employers’ minds at ease and are an opportunity for them to learn more about you. Ensure your references can speak professionally about your skills (ie. don’t use friends, use coworkers). Also, references should be former supervisors, if at all possible.

Build a Network

The truth is, having a professional network is immensely valuable to finding a job. So you should work on building one. Don’t go to events marketed as “networking events.The people at these networking events are primarily there for themselves and very unlikely to have the influence to put you in touch with the right people.

Here are a few enjoyable and authentic ways to build a professional network:

  • Attend a class or bootcamp
  • Meet people at a talk, lecture, or presentation that aligns with your professional interest
  • Attend a free conference that aligns with your career interest
  • Volunteer, attend charity events, or fundraisers
  • Attend social events (everyone has a job and they might have one for you!)

Put in the Time

New Yorkers, in particular, want to know that you’ve paid your dues in the city, which might make it hard to land your dream job in New York right out of the gate. Your first step should be to find a job in your field and stay there for a year or two. New Yorkers are leery of recent transplants, because we’ve seen so many of them leave after only a few months. The good news is, the city is thirsty for talent, and recruiters and temp agencies are actively trying to fill many roles. If you don’t have an established network, reach out to these organizations. They’ll hustle on your behalf to hook you up with a position that will give you a paycheck and experience.

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know if you have any other tips for getting a job without a professional network. What has worked for you?

[Image Credit: Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash]

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