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Best method for tapping into the hidden job market

The recovery was supposed to start by summer, no fall, no, now maybe next spring? Companies that thought they could hang on continue to go under the waves. That's why it's so important now to figure out what you really want to be about. This is the time to learn who your friends really are. The key to making it in the networked economy, it turns out, is your personal network.

A personal network used to mean some friends from work, from church, and from the neighborhood. Before the Web was spun, our contacts were usually fairly narrow. Ideally, you already keep in touch with an assortment of former co-workers, colleagues and industry peers who will notify you about job leads before they go public. More important than what you know is who "knows what you know". Make sure you're on the radar of people who have access to the kind of job leads you want.

If you're looking to work for a specific company, the key is to connect with a current employee. That might mean asking contacts in your network. An easy way to accomplish this online is through online networking sites, where you can essentially connect with your friends' friends. First, ask for an introduction. Then, if you're at a lower level, the social etiquette is to say you want an informational interview. If you're at a high level, say you want to talk about the market and where the industry is going.

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