The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 80% of all employment positions are filled without the use of job advertisement postings by employers. This percentage is a bit shocking considering that many job seekers rely on newspaper want ads and job board postings as their primary job search strategy.
Networking is one of the best ways to tap into this “hidden” source for finding employment and any job seeker is compromising her chances by ignoring it. So what is networking and how should someone use it to find a great job?
People continuously network within their personal lives, either by building on established relationships or cultivating new ones. It is interesting that networking comes so naturally to most people with everyday discourse, but not when it comes to finding employment. This is unfortunate because, in most cases, personal or professional relationships can be a superb source for tapping into the unadvertised job market.
Ways to Jump-start a Networking Job Search Strategy
Here are 3 approaches you can use as part of a job search networking plan.
• Speak with family, friends, and other personal contacts – Communicating your interest in finding new employment with people who really care about you is a great way to access the hidden job market. Most of these people have their own relationships and contacts and by initially talking to 3-5 people can actually get the word out to a much larger group. Remember it only takes one fruitful contact to find a great job, so do not ignore the people around you in your job search!
• Contact alumni associations and join professional/community organizations – Identify people who have common interests or passions and communicate with them regarding your interest in finding new employment. This can include alumni associations; fraternities/sororities and other college organizations; professional organizations that focus on your career area of specialty; and community organizations, such as Toastmasters and Kiwanis Club. This can be a great source for identifying leads and making inroads with people who can help you.
• Use Web-based Social Media – Most people have some experience sharing comments, photos, and other material on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, these and other sites provide outstanding opportunities to network and build productive relationships. LinkedIn is considered to be the premier social media site for connecting with others within a business context. The basic service is free, but you can also subscribe to premium options that provide additional features for connecting with other members. Facebook and Twitter can also be great sources for business-related networking.
Networking needs to be an important strategy for any job search campaign. Not only does it help job seekers tap into the hidden job market, but it enables people to develop relationships and even friendships that can last a lifetime.