Many people think of a job search as beginning and ending with looking in the classifieds – or in the current age, postings on an online job board.  While this is definitely an important avenue to pursue on your quest for a new job, did you know that studies suggest that 40-60% of jobs are actually found through networking?

Many job openings aren’t necessarily posted online.  Matt Youngquist of Career Horizons suggests that 70-80% of open positions fall into this category.  So if they’re not advertised, how are these positions filled?  Usually by word of mouth – including referrals by current employees of people they know who would be a good fit for the job.

So how can you get your foot into the door of some of these opportunities?  It’s all in who you know – or rather, who your acquaintances might know.

Professional networking can be accomplished via phone, e-mail, or even in person.  (If you choose to go the e-mail route, be sure to keep your messages clear and concise, and carefully check your spelling and grammar.)

Networking typically falls into two categories: informal and formal.  Youngquist likens finding a job via networking as volume equation: it takes X number of contacts to produce Y number of appointments with prospective companies, which result in Z number of real opportunities at finding a new job.  So basically, the more networking you do, the better your chances of connecting with the right person who can connect you with that perfect job.

Informal Networking

This type of networking consists of friends, family, and neighbors.  You never know who your contacts might know, so casually mentioning that you’re in the market for a new job could open up a great opportunity into one of these non-advertised jobs.

Additionally, if you’re a college alumnus, don’t forget about checking in with your alma mater’s Career Services department.  That’s what they’re there for, after all!

Formal Networking

Formal networking can be accomplished by attending as many business socials, trade shows, and conferences related to your field (or the field in which you’d like to work) as possible.  While you’re attending these functions, be sure to come prepared with business cards and something for taking notes.

If you’re particularly shy approaching people you don’t know, Alison Doyle of The Balance Careers suggests volunteering to man the registration table where you can greet people as they enter the event, or even bringing a friend to walk around with you.

Professional associations are another source for formal networking contacts.  In addition to events you can attend, many also have a section of their website dedicated to career assistance.

Additionally, social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook can be used for networking.  Both sites allow you to connect with current acquaintances and colleagues and will also suggest others you may know or be interested in meeting.

Susan Adams of Forbes suggests checking your suggested contacts to see if you may already know someone who is connected to the company you want to work for, and then reaching out to them.

Finally, don’t forget to keep your network updated on your search, follow through with all referrals, and thank your contacts in writing.  Don’t take your network for granted!

Additional Reading:
Check out these helpful links for more info about networking to find a new job:

A Successful Job Search: It’s All About Networking, NPR

How to Use Networking to Find a Job, The Balance Careers

Networking Is Still The Best Way To Find A Job, Survey Says, Forbes

Networking Your Way to a New Job, LiveCareer


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