Many people feel that the way to success in a job search is playing a game of numbers. Submit as many applications as possible to companies and hope that one will do the trick. For some this may work. But for the vast majority of people, solely relying on this method will lead to a very long job search. Because as you are doing this, so are many others. You may be applying for the same job as hundreds of fellow job seekers. It is hard to make your application stand out amid a sea of resumes. That is where networking comes in.
People have been networking for centuries, so this is not anything new. Networking is simply having contact and sharing with other people. If people know that you are looking for a new job, they may let you know of opportunities that are not even posted on a job board. It is not uncommon to hear, “My Uncle Jake is looking for someone to do X.” Also, when someone knows you on a more personal level and refers you to another as a good job candidate, this helps to set you apart from the others job seekers and gives you an advantage. If someone can vouch for you, this is very powerful, as it takes some of the risk out of the hiring decision.
Networking does not need to be solely going to a “networking event,” though there is a place for those in a job search. Networking can be as simple as talking to people you come across in your day-to-day activities---your barber or hairdresser, the librarian, the cashier at the grocery store. These people may know people that are hiring, and when they know you are looking, will pass your contact information on. Having someone vouch for you helps to move you to the head of the line in terms of interest by the hiring team. Networking can also be developing contacts in companies that you have an interest in. This is where LinkedIn can be a helpful tool in finding these people and introducing yourself. Social media has made is much easier to find people and develop relationships. Use social media to your advantage.
Numbers vary but studies show that from 70-85% of jobs are found through networking. If you are not using networking as one activity in your job search toolbox, you are making a mistake that no doubt is lengthening your job search.