by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Here are the keys to successful career networking for your job-search. Job-seekers who follow these simple rules and guidelines should achieve success in this important strategic tool of job-hunting.
- Do realize why networking is so important. The majority of job vacancies are hidden from the average job seeker. These positions are never advertised and are part of the "hidden" or "closed" job market. While career experts have for years used figures ranging from 75 to 95 percent to quantify the hidden job market, no one really knows how large it is. (See our article, Is the Hidden Job Market a Myth?.) You can find out about jobs in this market only through word of mouth, and word of mouth means networking.
- Do read our article, Networking Your Way to a New Job.
- Do think creatively about where to find network contacts. You can find people to add to your network almost anywhere.
- Don't go anywhere without copies of your resume and business cards or networking cards. You can keep your resume in your car or briefcase, but be sure you can access it easily if you meet someone who could pass your resume along to a hiring manager.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Most people are flattered to be asked for assistance and advice with your job search. It makes them feel important.
- Do join a professional organization related to your field. In a survey conducted for A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way Into the Hidden Job Market, professional organizations were cited as the top venue for networking. See our General Professional Organizations and Associations.
- Do volunteer. Volunteer work was cited in the survey as the No. 2 way to make network contacts.
- Do find a mentor. A mentor -- that one person who can guide you, help you, take you under his or her wing and nurture your career quest -- can be the most valuable kind of network contact.
- Do come up with a system for organizing your network contacts, whether a spreadsheet on your computer, a file box of index cards, a three-ring binder, or whatever works for you.
- Do consider conducting informational interviews, the ultimate networking technique. See our Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
- Don't forget to thank everyone in your network who has been helpful to you, preferably with a nice thank-you note. It's just common courtesy to show your appreciation for peoples' time and assistance, and your contacts will remember your good manners.
- Do keep networking even after you've found a job. You never know when you might need your network contacts again.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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