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Importance of Networking While On the Hunt for a New Job

DATE: 12/2/2015
Once we hear about a vacancy announcement in our workplaces, a list of acquaintances who might be a fit for the position runs through our heads. The list may include, for example, a close friend who we know to be looking for a job, a friend from the school who recently told us their resignation, or a new contact we met yesterday waiting in the line of a bank.

Actually, many vacant positions are filled by eligible applicants through word of mouth, even before an announcement circulates.

A study by Lou Adler, one of the best selling authors of Amazon, seems to validate this fact. According to Lou Adler, 55% of the vacant positions are filled in by fitting applicants before announcement, without further circulating in the market, through a behind-the-door labor market. Therefore, Lou Adler suggests the 20/20/60 sourcing plan for those on the hunt for a job.

The strategy suggests us to spend 20% of our time to apply for vacant positions, 20% to update our CVs and LinkedIn* profiles, and 60% to Networking while looking for a job.

A rule of thumb would without a question be starting to invest in ourselves, even though we are tempted to only look up online career pages, corporate websites or the HR columns of newspapers. 
Here is a to-do-list to consider if you're planning to find a job with the assistance of your network:

1- Find out what you want.
Be specific about what you want. Otherwise you'll be lost among the numberless announcements for vacant positions. Find out the position of your choice before starting the hunt. 
With whom you need to meet for the position you want to get? Which companies operate in the industry? Do you know anybody who works in the industry? If not, is there anyone you can meet or be introduced to? 

2- You know more people than you think you do. List them.
In the first instance, it may feel as if you did not know anyone who could be helpful but you know more people than you think you do. List the names of people you know.

You'll see the more you write, the longer the list gets. Include everyone that you can think of: friends, relatives, neighbors, former coworkers, former employers, associations you are a member of, alumni associations, friends on social media, and even those people to whom you were introduced by your contacts. 

3- Contact them.
Many of us find it awkward to leverage our existing network and do further networking. 

As the study by John Sullivan, a professor doctor at San Francisco University, reveals, world-wide known, sought-after corporations like Google employ much less than 1% of the candidates who apply for the vacant positions they announce. This is where references and existing network of contacts come into play.

Are you still pondering as to whether or not to tell your network you're out in the look for a job? Then, here are the golden rules to follow:
• Almost everybody has once experienced what it means to look for a job, therefore they will be able to empathize with you.
• Unlike what you may be convinced of, helping others makes one feel good about himself/herself. In other words, they will be pleased to help you along the way.

4- Start with references.
If any, your former seniors and coworkers may write a letter of recommendation for you. They should be among the first people to break the news that you're looking for a job. 

Are you a student? Then talk to a professor of yours who appreciates your efforts as a student. You may also want to contact those professionals in the business world whom you met in a project you were previously involved in.
• Share your targets so that they have a good understanding of what you might be interested in.
• Don't simply ask for a job. Give a heed to their advice.
• Ask them whether or not you can refer to their names in future interviews.
• Do let them know their prior contributions to where you are today.

5- Let them help you.
As much as we tell people that we're looking for a job, we also need to let them help us.
What does it mean? Don't be tempted by the assumption that the more chances you have, the better. Avoid over-generalized sentences like "let me know if you think I am fit for an open position". Be specific about which field you'd like to work in. This will make it easier to find potential employers.

6- Fill in the gaps in your existing network.
Once you have determined the position you're interested in and which firms may offer that position to you, find out relevant events and do a search about the participants.
Know which people you want to meet with, and leverage your close contacts in trying to connect with those you have not got to know yet.

7- Maintain your connections.
You cannot simply keep in mind all the information about your network. Take notes on people you have just met. Maintaining these connections is a significant part of the networking vision.

8- Keep in touch with your network for continuous feedback. 
To make sure your ties remain strong, keep on letting them know about your efforts to find a job. Once you have found the position you have been looking for, take some time to express gratitude to those who have supported you. 

*LinkedIn on Wikipedia: LinkedIn is a professional social networking platform that helps people connect and exchange information with others in the business world. Founded in December 2002, it was launched on 5 May 2003. (Author's Note: As of September 2015, it has outreached approximately 400 million users across the world.)
Lou Adler, http://www.eremedia.com/ere/the-202060-sourcing-plan/
John Sullivan, https://drjohnsullivan.com/articles/a-case-study-of-google-recruiting-part-2/

Business Networking Academy (With Ozge Onsen Belen's Contributions)