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Networking is a powerful and important job hunting and job research technique. It can be particularly good where it helps you to find jobs at the earliest stages - where a manager is identifying the need for new staff and has not yet advertised positions. If you can find the job at this stage, then you may be the first (and only) applicant for the job. The job can often be fluid at this early stage - you may have the opportunity to shape it so that it suits you perfectly.

Many positions are filled using networking - it is particularly important where it is essential that reliable people are recruited to carry out a key role.

Why Networking Works

Recruiters love networking. After internal promotion, it is often seen as the most reliable and cost-effective strategy for hiring. The benefits to recruiters of hiring you through networking include:

  • You come personally recommended by someone the recruiter knows and trusts
  • They can see you quickly and without waiting for intermediaries to act
  • The recruiter avoids the high costs of agency fees or advertising costs
  • They can see you and make a decision without having to do the tedious work of writing a job specification and preparing and placing an advertisement

Starting to Network

Networking is about building relationships with people, asking their advice and sharing information with them where you can. It is about asking them who you should contact next and asking their permission to use their name in making contact.

Start with ex-colleagues, mentors, supervisors and managers you have known, friends, careers staff at schools or universities, teachers, parents and parents friends. Think about all the people you know who may know someone who has a job.

Contact these people - let them know that you are looking for a job. Say that you understand that they might not have one on offer, but ask if they know of any or know anyone who might have one. If the person you are talking to recommends someone, ask their permission to use their name when you make contact ("John Brown from ABC Corporation suggested I called you").

Now call these people and ask them the same thing. And then call the people they suggest. And then call the people they suggest....

If you are polite, you will find that most people are instinctively kind when someone needs help - it costs them nothing, and most know that in the future they may be in the same position. Industries can often be quite small - you may be in a position to help them when they need it.

Networking Tips

An important tip is to record information on people you have talked to. This means that you know who you have already talked to - this can prevent huge embarrassment! It also gives you easy tools to write letters to people thanking them for their time and for their leads. For the future, it records the network you have created within the industry to find your job - this network may be hugely valuable in the future as you find your way in your new career.

A second tip is to work, if you can, with other people trying to find a job in the same industry - if you look out for each other and share knowledge, you significantly expand your coverage.

A final tip is to remember that as you talk to people in the industry, you are building up information on the industry - this may be useful to the people you are talking to. Where possible, share this new expertise. Remember to give as well as take.