Various studies have found that 45% to 70% of job seekers got their jobs through networking. More recently, a survey by Lou Adler discovered that 60% of the job seekers he surveyed found their jobs through networking. In a recent article titled Hire Economics: Why Applying to Jobs Is a Waste of Time, Mr. Adler estimated that “being referred to a hiring manager by a trusted person is 50-100X more likely to result in being interviewed and hired compared to submitting a resume to a posted job.” My 11 years of experience guiding job seekers through active job searches tends to confirm these statistics.
If I’ve gotten your attention, then I want to share one critical preparatory action and four networking strategies I have found to be helpful in landing better jobs faster. The critical action I recommend is that you first establish a goal. People want to know “What do you want to do next?”. You may decide to change your goal as you proceed through your job search and learn, but beginning your search with an answer is important. As an example, a goal for a mid-career corporate accounting manager who is aspiring to move up to a Controller role could be “I have a background in corporate accounting and am seeking a new position as either an accounting manager in a larger company or a Controller in a mid-sized company”.
With your job search goal established, try adding these four strategies from my book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!):
Strategy One: Emphasize one-on-one networking rather than group networking.
“It is a basic tenet of marketing that one-on-one communications with your prospective buyers is tremendously more effective than mass marketing to unqualified audiences. One-on-one networking with employed decision makers is where you need to strive to spend most of your job search networking hours.”
Strategy Two: Springboard off your best networking contacts rather than attempting to meet new strangers.
“When you are fully prepared to start your campaign, begin with your best networking contacts. You can grow your network utilizing your existing relationships and “branch out” from there. Bob Burg, a nationally known speaker and networking guru, suggests you can define your best contacts as those who “know you, like you, and trust you.”"
Strategy Three: Conduct your networking as a two-way street, seeking to help others as much as they help you.
“You may have heard the expression that everyone listens to one station — WII FM (what’s in it for me). While it is true that your best networking contacts will be more receptive to hear what you need, one-sided interactions can reduce your successes greatly.” … “As you expand your network outward from your best contacts, it becomes increasingly important that there be some balance in your networking communications and actions.”
Strategy Four: Make sure your professional image/brand and your follow up are first class.
“Some great people who say and do all the right things in their networking meetings fail to recognize their poor first impressions or fail to follow up properly.” … “It will be to your advantage to insure (1) you are dressed appropriately and that your clothes fit you, (2) your hair is properly cut/styled as you would wear it on-the-job, (3) you are smiling in a friendly manner, and (4) you extend your hand to greet the other person in a confident manner.” … “Regarding follow up, a job search networking faux pas to be avoided is putting your networking contacts on your follow up list for regular calls once a month, every two weeks, etc.”
I have found that incorporating these strategies into your job search networking can greatly improve your odds of success. And, here is a bonus suggestion: Increase you informational interviewing with specific people who you believe will be able to provide you information about new career options you are considering, employers of interest, etc. In an article for www.about.com, Alison Doyle provided good ideas about informational interviewing in Successful Job Search Networking. I recommend ALL job seekers conduct more informational interviews to increase their odds of job search success.
Don’t give up on networking in your job search. Networking works — and you can reap the rewards by making positive changes in your networking activities. What have been your experiences with job search networking? Do you have additional suggestions for being more effective? I’d love for you to share your experiences … good, bad, or indifferent.
Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).