When you’re looking for a new role, there are some clear steps you should probably take. Spruce up your resume with recent achievements, tidy up your LinkedIn and maybe get a new headshot to look professional, and start (or ideally, continue!) networking. But what if you’re doing that and aren’t seeing any results? In a tough job market, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged when applying to jobs posted on huge platforms like LinkedIn or Indeed, especially when you see that soul-crushing “100+ applicants” banner next to the job you’re looking at. It’s enough to make a girl want to give up and stay in bed forever.
However, times like these just require job hunters to get a little more creative in how they find new opportunities. Enter: Industry Slack groups. The latest trend popping up across the networking world is the creation of Slack groups dedicated entirely to certain industries. Think groups like “Project Managers in Tech in Chicago” or “Wedding Photographers in Ohio”. These are the glow-up versions of the Facebook groups we all used to be part of (Neopets Forever, anyone?), but with real value for your career. These “secret” groups are filled with people in similar industries, and the insights, connections, and job opportunities posted in these groups can be hard to find elsewhere. I was able to find my most recent job—before it was ever posted on a job board or even company website—in a marketing Slack group for my city. The person leaving the role posted about it and mentioned she was looking for someone to recommend as a backfill. I was in the market, we went for coffee, and the rest is history.
How to find an industry Slack group
So, how exactly do you get yourself into one of these groups? It can be a little tricky, but nothing a little sleuthing can’t fix! The first place to start is—of course—Google. Try Googling keywords like “[your industry] Slack group” and your city to see what comes up. If you don’t get any hits, try searching variations of your industry, or move out a degree and search more general terms, like “product marketing Slack” and “United States”. Don’t get discouraged, even big, more generalized groups can still yield a lot of fruit (for reassurance, the Slack group where I found my job is for content marketers all across North America, and I see jobs posted in my city or that are open to remote workers almost daily).
If you’ve done some Google searching and have come up dry, don’t give up yet. The next step is to head over to LinkedIn and start populating the same terms. Administrators or co-founders of groups often include this in their LinkedIn bio/career section, so you might be able to find a member to reach out to. Don’t forget to also ask colleagues, friends, your university alumni association, etc. if they know of any groups. It can be somewhat of a “who you know” game, but where there’s a will, there’s a way!
I’ve found a group, now what?
Congrats, you’ve found a group you want to join (and remember to be open to joining all kinds of groups, even ones that might only be loosely related to your field)! Once you’ve found your group, the next step is to get yourself added. Many groups are open to anyone, meaning you just need to find the link and add yourself. Some do require an invite, and the easiest way to get one is to find someone already in the group, which is where it’s beneficial to reach out to colleagues and friends to see if anyone’s in a group you’re interested in. If you don’t already know someone, see if you can find an admin or page for the group on LinkedIn, which is where I’ve had a lot of success. Lastly, look for organizations or associations related to your field, such as the “New York Copywriters Association” (I made that up, but you get the point), and send them an email. If they’re not associated with the group, they likely know someone who is.
How to network in Slack
Yay, you’ve made it into a group and are ready to nab one of those under-the-radar jobs! I’m super excited for you, but it’s important to know that there are some unspoken rules in most industry Slack groups. Most groups will have a code of conduct, likely in a #general or #announcements channel, and that should be your first stop. A lot of groups won’t allow you to spam or self-promote (which may or may not include posting that you’re looking for work, so double check!), or they’ll have rules about which channels can be used for what. In my experience, most admins take the code of conduct pretty seriously, so make sure you do, too. The last thing you want is to get kicked out after you spent all that time getting in!
Where Slack groups differ from LinkedIn is that they’re a lot more focused on community and participation. The more you engage and converse with people in the group, the more likely you’ll find someone willing to give you a heads up on a great role coming down the pipeline. Add your thoughts to a thread about the future of social media, provide feedback to someone who’s asking for ideas for a new project, and post about any cool meetups you think people might enjoy. Building this credibility and being part of the community will go a long way.
Finding a new job via Slack
Okay, you’ve found the group, got invited, read the code of conduct, and have been actively participating. So, how about that new job? Most groups have a channel for job postings. As mentioned before, many groups don’t allow for you to post about looking for a role, so it can be a bit of a waiting game to find something that’s the right fit. When I was on the hunt, I checked each group a few times a day, and when an interesting or relevant role popped up I would message the poster that same day and see if I could speak with them. Not everyone will be open to this (some people post opportunities that recruiters messaged them about or roles in their company they don’t know much about), but a lot of people will be. The key is to try to be one of the first people to reach out so they are still willing to chat, and to come prepared with thoughtful questions to demonstrate your interest.
After you’ve spoken to the person who posted the role—either via Slack or over a call—and confirmed your interest, be sure to have your resume and cover letter ready to go shortly after speaking with them. Don’t take too long to do this or the person might forget the conversation you had. Make sure you also ask your connection if you should send your application directly to them, through a link they’ll send you, or just through the company’s career portal. Some companies are super strict on how they accept and prioritize referrals, so make sure to clarify the right way to apply. Once you’ve submitted your application, make sure to follow general etiquette: circle back with your connection and thank them for their time and help, and keep them in the loop with how the process goes (unless they’re the hiring manager directly, which you might come across!).
Pro Tip: Before openly posting that you’re looking for a job or responding in threads about roles you’re interested in, double check there’s nobody at your current company in the group (it’s a small world, after all). You can do this by searching the members in the top right corner. If you find your boss, other members of your team, or prominent HR people, think about using other groups to hunt for roles. At the very least, direct message people about jobs instead of responding in threads where anyone can see.
Paying it forward
Follow this formula until you find a role that works out for you. Many of my friends and people in my network have also found their latest roles through Slack groups, so it’s definitely a job hunting method worth looking into! Once you’ve found your role (or even before), make sure to pay it forward. Post jobs that you hear about from recruiters or are hiring for yourself, and be sure to let other people know about the groups you’re in. Slack groups can seem a little “VIP”-ish at times, but it’s important to remember that the more people who join them, the more future connections and jobs there are, so spread the love and invite anyone who might be able to benefit!