Job Search Networking
Job search networking is an absolutely essential activity for any job seeker in today’s employment market.
This advice applies regardless of whether you are out of work and need a job, or if you have a job but are looking for a change in employment or career direction.
There are several reasons for this:
- There is massive competition for advertised jobs in today’s job market. Typically, you won’t have any competition if you are networking.
- In my experience as a job search coach, the only job search activity that the majority of people have is to try to get a job interview by applying for every advertised job they think they are capable of doing.
- The majority of jobs that are available tend not to be advertised – some people estimate that approximately 60-80% of jobs are not advertised. This seems to apply regardless of the occupation or profession.
Common sense would suggest that if most of the available work isn’t advertised, then it would be a great idea to find a way to access this so called “hidden, or invisible jobs market”.
And, that’s exactly what job search networking is all about – finding out, by networking with people, where the hidden jobs are.
Small to medium sized organisations (SMEs) are by far the biggest employers of people. About 80% of organisations would, I think, fall into this category.
SMEs tend not to advertise because either they can’t spare the people, or the time to deal with the workload that is created when people start responding to a job advertisement.
A single job advert can generate hundreds of responses from candidates, which in turn can create a lot of work for someone in the organisation to deal with.
Larger organisations, and government departments/organisations however will usually advertise job vacancies. They will have human resource specialists on the payroll whose job it is to deal with recruitment and staffing matters.
It is also worth noting that job vacancies in government departments/organisations are commonly obliged to be advertised to ensure equity of access by all interested/eligible members of the public.
However…….regardless of size, virtually all employers would seriously consider a ‘word of mouth’ recommendation from a trusted source for recruiting a new staff member. In fact they would tend to view this as a more reliable option than risking hiring someone they only know about from a resume, job application letter and job interview.
As a job seeker therefore, just because you don’t see any positions advertised for the type of job you are seeking doesn’t mean that positions are not available.
There IS a hidden job market and it can be accessed through job search networking.
Maybe this has already happened to you – that you have got a job a result of someone you know in or through your network of contacts!
How do small/medium sized organisations tend to recruit?
When a vacancy occurs in any organisation, regardless of size, the first question that is often asked is “Who do we know that could do this job?”
The employers themselves in fact begin a process of networking in order to recruit their new staff member.
This practice of using our personal networks is tried and true in virtually all parts of our lives. If we have a problem, need information or advice we turn to the people we know and trust for help and advice.
It’s fairly easy to see why any employer might use ‘word of mouth’ around their network to recruit new people. When recommendations are made by people we that we trust, their advice usually works out.
Types of job search networking
There are a range of networking techniques. Some are more effective than others. Let’s evaluate some of the common ones:
- Contacting family, friends, acquaintances, former work colleagues to let them know you are looking for work and asking them to let you know if they hear of any job opportunities. This can work if you are lucky, and if your contacts are well connected with potential employers. Typically, you will run out of leads pretty quickly.
- Attending or hanging out at events. This means going to things like breakfast meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences which people with similar career backgrounds or occupations are likely to be attending. Leads from this approach also tend to dry up pretty quickly,unless you are very lucky. Also, it becomes very costly to keep going to these events.
- Letting your contacts in social media know you are looking for job opportunities. Usually there will be poor results from this approach.
Why are some job search networking approaches unsuccessful?
The main reason I believe is that we are asking the wrong question, or asking for the wrong type of help from our contacts.
Implied in each of the networking approaches that I described above is that you are asking your contacts things like:
- Do you happen to know about any jobs that might suit me?
- Can you help me find a job?
- Can you give me a job?
Have you ever been asked questions like these by people you know who have been looking for work? What was your response?
Most people, when approached in this way, and especially if they can’t actively help, tend to go on the defensive. You will get answers like “Sorry, can’t help, but I’ll keep an eye out for you and let you know.”
And……that is usually also the last you will hear from that person, especially if they are not family members, or very close acquaintances.
As a result of these knockbacks most people will stop their networking efforts, and go back to concentrating on job advertisements.
The secret is this…….you need to find a believable reason to have a conversation with people about employment.
In other words, you need to ask a different type of question when approaching your contacts.
Ask questions that will make them more inclined to assist you, rather than being on the defensive and offering limited help.
And the types of questions you can ask so that people will assist you is, dear readers, the topic of my next blog post!!
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When job seeking, or looking for ways to change employer, and/or career direction it is important that you use a range of strategies.
By all means monitor your favourite jobs boards for advertised positions. But…..realise that 60-80% of the jobs that are available to you are not likely to be advertised.
These unadvertised jobs exist in a hidden market – and you will only find out about them through networking with people.
Most people really don’t know effective job search networking techniques. After approaching their obvious contacts and associates for job information their networking activity usually stops.
Here are links to my next posts on this subject of job search networking:
- How to network – an overview of how to network when job seeking
- How to set up a job search networking meeting – this includes suggested ways to approach people so that they agree to meet with you
- Conducting an informational interview – includes questions to ask your contact, preparing to self promote during the discussion and obtaining more contacts