You are obviously serious about finding your next position. You spend your days and nights at your computer, filling out online applications, writing cover letters, applying, applying, and applying.
But have you been networking?
Many job search experts consider networking to be the most important, most effective aspect of a job search. This might not be what you want to hear, because you cringe at the thought of approaching others about your need for employment.
But network you must, and here are some reasons why, and some ways to look at it.
Why Networking is So Important
Career One Stop, a source for career exploration, training and jobs, says that networking is a key part of job hunting. The site takes the sting out of the idea of networking by describing it as simply “talking to others – either formally or informally – about your job search and career goals.” It encourages job-seekers to view networking as “not the same as asking for a job. Usually your networking contacts will not be potential employers.” It also reminds us that “an employer who is not hiring today may be looking for someone like you tomorrow.”
“Networking is about who you know rather than what you know, and it is more effective than virtually all other job search strategies,” says Joel Garfinkle in his blog post, The Key to a Successful Job Search: Networking your Way into a Job. “It’s giving and receiving information, ideas, referrals, recommendations, leads and support with others,” he says.
Lou Adler, CEO and founder of the The Adler Group, says, “Networking is how you turn 4-5 great contacts into 50-60 connections in 2-3 weeks.” In a LinkedIn article, he says networking should represent 60% of your job-hunting efforts – about 20-30 hours per week. “This is roughly 10-15 new contacts per week via the phone, which should convert into 5-6 one-on-one meetings every week.” Adler says you should spend the rest of your time on LinkedIn researching connections and job openings in their companies.
The National Public Radio show, All Things Considered, aired a special by Wendy Kaufman on 2/8/2015: “A Successful Job Search: It’s All About Networking.” Her guest was Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons, who told job seekers that finding a new position presents the same challenges as taking a product to market. “It takes ‘X’ number of contacts to get this many appointments, to get this many chances of actually getting a sales opportunity or a job,” Youngquist says. “I do think volume is a big part of it.”
Kaufman refers to former job-seeker Terri Garfinkel, who emailed past employers after she was laid off from her job at a high-end retail bakery, telling them she was looking for a new position. It took a while, but she landed a job with someone she had worked for just briefly a decade ago.
Now, that’s the value of networking in a nutshell!
You Never Know Who Might be Able To Assist You
All of the above meshes with the advice of Jim Fergle, Certified Workforce Development Professional who heads up the Job Search Services Unit at the workNet DuPage Career Center in Lisle. In his LinkedIn post, Networking and Aesop’s Fable of the Lion and the Mouse, Fergle reminds us of the moral to that particular story: even the small and weak may someday help those who are mightier than themselves. He advises job seekers to “get out of your cocoon and help others as well,” adding “You never know who knows who, nor who will help you out when you least expect it and need it.”
Fergle stresses certain points about networking:
- Be ready to network anytime, anyplace and with anyone.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Let people know you’re job searching; you don’t know who is listening.
- The person you’re networking with may even be the person who can hire you.
- Treat everyone you meet with respect, especially receptionists and administrative assistants.
Be Proud, and Get Out There
Fergle recognizes that networking during the job search can be difficult when “your self-esteem and confidence are low.” He reminds us to write out our accomplishments, to help us identify what our benefits will be to a potential employer; how we are going to solve their problems and make them money. “Be proud of who you are and what you have done,” he stresses, and, “Be able to let people know what you are looking for,” he adds.
Good job-search advice will always lead you to the importance of networking; networking will support and develop your job search and, in fact, do the same for your overall professional life. Think of it as talking with people and getting to know each other better; this can take the sting out of the idea and hopefully get you “out there” making contacts that will help you land your next position more effectively and more quickly.