This article was originally published in The York County Coast Star
If you need a plumber or an electrician, you’ll probably call a friend for a referral. Need a new hair stylist, or a dentist, or information on the best places to pick apples—same thing, call a friend or ask a co-worker. Sure, you could scour the Internet for the same scoop, but reaching out to people you know is easier and it will yield you first hand and trusted advice. You’ll receive the rundown you can’t get elsewhere, like the plumber who will show on weekends, or the orchard that also has activities for kids. You know your best source for reliable information is your existing network.
Yet, while many of us understand this, when it comes to job searching, we seem to draw a line against intruding on friends and family and ignore this valuable resource. Too many job seekers depend on mining the Internet, hoping to find the perfect job. Unfortunately, applying for positions posted on the Internet means you’re competing against hundreds and even thousands of other applicants for the same single job. You wouldn’t hesitate to ask your buddy about finding a good proctologist, but about a job lead—never! No wonder why it takes people so long to find a job.
There are a few realities job seekers need to know.First, most jobs are never posted online—or advertised at all. Employers prefer to avoid the costs associated with advertising and the avalanche of resumes when they do. Secondly, managers often use an “underground network” where they turn to their employees and professional colleagues to source the right candidate. In other words, when they need to fill a position, they reach out to those they know—their network to fill these open slots. It’s easy, cheap, reliable and fast.
So if employers are networking to find job candidates, why aren’t more candidates networking to find jobs? Smart job seekers are, and for those who are not, it is time to start. To find a job in this economy, you have to reach out to friends, colleagues, former bosses, frankly anyone you know. And the more people you know, the better your chances for success. It’s not complicated and it’s not hard to do.
I am continuously amazed at the power of this process. My son recently moved to California looking for a job in television and film. He works in the production side of the business. Pursuing his dream, he left for Hollywood without knowing anyone in the business. I wanted to help him but I didn’t know anyone in LA or in the media business—I thought. Being proud of my son, I wanted to update people I know about what he is doing and began ending my conversations by asking “do you know anyone in the business out there?” not ever expecting an affirmative response. To my amazement, my network of acquaintances has generated a number of contacts that have been more than willing to plug my son in with their LA connections. This has led to more leads, job interviews, and work on a couple of films. All done in a matter of weeks.
All job seekers must refocus their efforts to spending 90% of their time cultivating their network. Simply put, if you want to find a job, network. Not doing so is like sailing a boat without wind. You’ll have some movement, but you’ll never get where you want to go.
Two more points: first, the best time to begin developing your network is well before you begin a job search and you must continue to cultivate it after you get a job. It’s a life-long process. Secondly, you have to give to get. Don’t look at the process as simply a way to get something. You must be willing to help others first. The more you give, the more you get.
I will discuss more about how to effectively network in future columns. In the interim, let me know if you have any media connections in LA. My son still needs that full time position.