5 Groups to Network with During Your SQL Server Jobs Search

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"It's not what you know, it's who you know."

That statement has never been truer when it comes to a job search. Yet, most individuals aren't proactively engaging their current network to help them, reaching out to past individuals and Recruiters, and/or actively working on growing their network, engaging with them, and following up with in a manner that will yield results such as interviews. Many are still relying solely on job boards as their "job prospecting strategy," spending hours a day combing through job postings, applying, and anxiously waiting to hear back.


Studies have reported that, on average, only 6-10% of online applications get viewed. Hopefully that statistic is powerful enough to help any job seeker still relying on applying to online postings to consider other more effective strategies, such as networking. Growing your network and engaging with them effectively takes time, strategy, intentional communication, persistence, and follow up. But engaging in purposeful and strategic networking will bring you the best results, and you'll likely experience a lot less sleepless nights too!

When it comes to Networking 101, let's talk about one of the first, and most important, pieces of networking. Who could and should you be focused on building relationships with and establishing open lines of communication with around your job search?

Here are 5 key groups of individuals you should be viewing as instrumental members of your network for your SQL Server Jobs search.

1 - Professional Network

Have you written out or thought through a list of your past co-workers, Leads, Managers, subordinates/mentees/trainees, Human Resource professionals, and others you have worked with who might be good to re-connect with? Even if you haven't spoken to them in a while, if you had a strong working relationship with them at some point, they would welcome hearing from you. Go through your career and think through each company, team and/or project and ask yourself "Who did I work closely with? Who were my leaders?"

After you make a list, reach out to each of them and make them aware of your current situation, what you're looking for, and simply ask if their company is hiring and/or if there's anyone they may connect you to who might be hiring, or if they have any suggestions that could provide viable job prospects. Find them on LinkedIn and connect that way if it's someone you haven't spoken to in some time, so they can click your profile and quickly get re-acclimated to you.

Example Message:

"Good morning, Cate! I know it's been a couple years since we worked together at SQL Saviors, but I was recently laid off, and wanted to get re-connected to individuals I've worked with in the past. If your company has any opportunities for a SQL/Reports Analyst, I'd love to throw my name in the hat for consideration. Or, if you have any recruiters you'd recommend or other job search suggestions, I'd love to hear about it. I hope you've been well; enjoy the rest of your week!"  

2 - Recruiters

Identifying Recruiters at reputable companies is one of the quickest and most effective ways of learning which companies are hiring, what roles they're hiring for, and the skills those Managers are looking for. It can also help your resume in the inbox of the hiring Manager vs. the "black hole" of many ATS' (applicant tracking systems), and get you an advocate who is actively promoting you! We have written a series around 'Finding, Screening, and Working with Recruiters' that dives more into depth on this topic. The bottom line is that you want to work with Recruiters from several firms, as we all have different companies we support and staff for, who get the types of jobs you are looking for.

The biggest "opportunity" we see for job seekers is to actively seek strong recruiting partners out. Rather than accidentally finding Recruiters as you are searching and applying for job postings, be more strategic and intentional here. Have you done an 'Advanced Search' via LinkedIn to identify local Recruiters and reached out? Doing a simple search on LinkedIn for 'Recruiter and SQL and Tampa' who were either 1st or 2nd degree connections generated 50+ results for me. If I were targeting a SQL related position, I would check out 5-10 of those profiles a day, and proactively message them.

Example Message:

"Hi, James! I'm a Reports Developer and Analyst, with a focus on SQL and Power BI, and I'm looking for a new role. You seem to have a strong background with recruiting in the Data/BI space, and I'd love to schedule a conversation to talk about my background and any roles you have. It also looks like we share several connections, perhaps through the local Power BI Meetup, which I'm an active member of. When do you have 15 minutes to connect, preferably over Zoom or Teams? Thanks in advance for your time!"

Best Practices when messaging Recruiters:

  1. Be specific and concise on what you're looking for.
  2. Make your "ask" clear, ideally in the form of a question.
  3. Establish a connection when possible (in EX above, shared connections and Power BI Meetup).
  4. Suggest a video interview/conversation, which improve the quality of the conversation and make you more memorable and likable.
  5. Gratitude will never hurt.

Disclaimer: Before you start using LinkedIn as an outreach and networking platform, do a thorough audit of your profile! Do you have a quality picture? Is the content/sections built out? Do you have any positive recommendations (strive for at least 3)? Have you included volunteer work, groups/associations you're a member of, causes you care about, etc. (all which can influence your "brand")? Added skills? You need to have a strong, positive profile that acts as your digital professional marketing channel before you use for outreach and communication.

3 - Alumni Avenues

Did you go to college, graduate from a STEM program, graduate from a coding school, etc.? Did you get a certification, and is there a channel there to explore? Most individuals have some sort of alumni network that they could tap into, which may provide access to additional job boards, career service advisor/s, networking events, and/or career fairs or other hiring events. Simply identify any of your alumni avenues or options, determine who might be a good person to speak with, and then share your situation and ask if they have any relevant hiring events, know of any companies hiring, recruiting contacts, or other tips for job seekers.

4 - Meetups/Associations

Getting involved consistently with at least one local technical group that aligns with your skills and interests is incredibly beneficial for continued growth and knowledge, and the networking benefit can be extremely valuable! Now with so many events being virtual, it expands the networking benefits. How? First, you can market yourself to a wider audience in a virtual room, and include professional links such as your LinkedIn or GitHub profile URLs.

Second, you can start to attend virtual events in other cities, which can expand your network and expand possibilities. Say you're a Reports Developer in Tampa, Florida, and you've been a member of the Tampa Power BI Meetup for years. You can now join other Power BI Meetups across the state/region, and attend their meetings. You can take your strategy to the next level by trying to identify specific cities/locations that might be hiring a lot within your skill area, and target groups in that area, and start attending virtual events. I'm an Organizer of the Tampa Tech4Good Meetup, and over the last couple months, we've had folks tune in from across the country, Canada, Europe, and Africa!

If you are an active member and attend regularly, there are other ways to network with groups you're a member of. Have you looked at the list of past sponsors and reached out? Have you contacted the Organizer/s to see if they have recommendations for companies hiring, Recruiter/s and/or job boards? Have you posted a plug, such as the below, as a 'Discussion' in the main group to promote yourself? Have you posted a plug in the group's social media channels, such as their LinkedIn and/or Facebook group? If the group has a presence on Twitter, have you tagged them on your plug?

Example Plug During Events:

"Hi, all! I'm a Reports Developer, and I've focused on Power BI for years. My contract is ending in two weeks, and am looking for a new job. If anyone is aware of any job openings, or has Recruiter suggestions, can you share? I have recommendations of my work via https://www.linkedin.com/in/thereportswizard and some dashboards I've put together for a local nonprofit initiative at https://github.com/thereportswizard.

5 - Personal Network

One of the most under-utilized strategies is tapping into personal networks of friends, family, neighbors, etc. Especially if you are active on a social media platform, consider putting out posts to make your personal network aware of your situation and what type of jobs you are looking for. You'll want to make your plug and explanation of what you do a bit broader, so your non-technical friends can understand what you do.

Example Facebook Post:

"Friends I was laid off this week, and I'm looking for a job. I am an Information Technology Professional, and I focus on data, business intelligence, and creating reports with tools like Power BI. Any help/guidance/connections would be much appreciated!"

Next Steps

Think about these 5 groups of individuals who can be beneficial during any job search and reflect on:

  1. Which group/s am I engaging with now, and how am I utilizing them?
  2. Which group/s am I not utilizing? Who are specific individuals I can start to connect or engage with in each of those groups?
  3. Which is my weakest network group? What is my plan for forming one/growing?
  4. What are my biggest opportunities for further leveraging each group?

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Erica Woods Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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