If you followed the steps from Part I ‘How to reach out to an employer (while still in your job)’ you should know why you want to reach out. With a well planned professional strategy and internal opportunities explored if you still want to reach out take the following steps.
Do not mention your plan to your current co-workers – even your closest friends or allies. Why? With the best of intentions, your friend may ‘let it slip.’ Your employer hearing your plans is never a good thing. If in exploratory mode, thinking about change or actively planning for change you want to engage with the process on your own terms. If your employer hears what you are doing, decisions may be made for you rather than by you. So play your hand close to your chest for now.
Expect the best but prepare for the worst
This is a high stake game of poker so prepare for all outcomes including leaving your job. Update your CV and your LinkedIn profile. Do so on your own time and turn your LinkedIn notifications to private. Remember your connections receive a notification every time you change your profile. Nothing raises an employer’s eyebrow more than an unusual amount of LinkedIn updates or your CV open on work devices. Should a confidentiality breach happen, that unsettles your employer, you are well prepared for all eventualities?
Fill your skills gaps now
When reaching out, do so confidently and from a position of professional strength. Identify and bolster professional skills gaps now. Fill that lacuna by doing a course or embarking on a project to gain the relevant experience. Position yourself well before any reach out. Thus ensuring you make the best possible first impression.
Catch their attention
Link, follow and connect online with the person or company you want to reach out to. Watch, share, like, comment and engage with that person. If already prolific on social media ensure you share professionally apt, industry relevant and thought provoking content. If not, it is time to build your social media profile with professionally relevant information. After all, your social media presence forms part of your digital CV. By doing this, you establish an online connection which gives you an idea of how open to a face-to-face and trustworthy the person is. It also raises your online professional profile. By opening online channels of communication you are forming the basis of an offline meeting.
Casually Test the Waters
Identify potential events or industry meet-up’s the person you would like to reach out to is speaking at, a member of or contributor to. Go to one of these events with the intention of saying hello and to strike up a conversation (hard I know). If you feel she is open to a further chat, suggest a coffee or exchange email addresses.
Consider mutual benefit
If you both are likely to profit from the conversation, there is a good chance you can count on confidentiality. Remember employers and employees want to bring people on board who are potential assets. If the process requires discretion is more likely to happen if both parties are likely to benefit from the conversation.
Make direct contact
After laying the foundations of a productive reach out you are ready to make your move. Make direct contact by letter, email, phone, or through a friend, whatever you feel most comfortable with. Carefully craft your reach out as both casual and professional outlining your need for confidentiality.
By Sinead Brady