Question: "Networking seems mostly about using people. What's the best way to use networking when job-hunting?"
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
This question from job-seekers is so common, which is quite unfortunate when you understand the value and importance of networking in a job-search.
It is certainly possible to use people in your network, but that's not networking is about.
Career networking is about using the power of people wanting to help others combined with sheer numbers to develop a wide net of contacts who are all helping you with your job search.
Networking means developing a broad list of contacts -- people you've met through various social and business functions -- and using their expertise, position, and network of contacts to your advantage when you look for a job. People in your network may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network.
How big is your network? Probably bigger than you think. Make a list of people potentially in your network. You can start with family members, friends, neighbors, former supervisors and co-workers, and other people you know. If you belong to a civic, religious, or professional group, your network has the potential to be quite large. If you don't belong to any of these groups, especially a professional association related to your career, join one or more of them immediately!
Why is networking so important? Career experts estimate that the vast majority of job openings are never advertised or publicly announced, but filled through word-of-mouth or networking -- known as the "hidden job market." And the likelihood of a job opening not being advertised at all increases with the level of the job. You'll find greater job-search success through networking than any other job-search method.
What are the steps to successful networking? I believe there are seven -- and I explain them in detail in my article, Networking Your Way to a New Job.
You can also find some great networking resources -- on and off the Web -- in the networking resources section of Quintessential Careers.
Other useful articles related to networking -- and the power of networking in your job-search:
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor's Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions -- and Dr. Hansen's solutions.
Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor's homepage.