Networking is NOT Job Search

Okay, I know this sounds strange, especially coming from me. Especially since this is a blog about how to find a job and I harp on networking all the time.  To be clear, networking is a fantastic job search technique – quite possibility the most important job search technique.  But networking is about more than job search. 

When you network, your goal is to meet people, learn more about them, and help them to learn more about you.  Then, you ask them to refer you to others so you can repeat that process, and learn more about others, and have them learn more about you. 

You should use networking to:

  • Learn about people – what they do and who they are (they are people – not just contacts),
  • Learn more about companies – what they do and what it’s like to work there,
  • Learn more about industries – what is booming and what is about to bust,
  • Learn more about communities – where is a good place to put down, or strengthen roots, and
  • Learn about volunteer opportunities – where you can use your skills and make the world a better place.

And yes while that is happening, you may also use networking to:

  • Learn about who is hiring for what jobs,
  • Learn about hiring managers and what they are looking for, and
  • Learn what jobs you do NOT want to apply for.

It’s a subtle difference, but if you make networking as simply a means to find a job, you might miss the bigger opportunity to truly build a network, rather than simply endure a string of meetings that may, or may not, lead you to the next job.  Invest in your network and it will pay dividends.  Make your networking be all about finding your next job and you may find yourself struggling.

If you need some help, read this.

But I Already Know What I Want

I have a friend who is looking for a very specific job.  There are less than 100 of these jobs in the region he wants to work, and only a dozen of those are vacant at any given time.  Those jobs are always filled through formal search processes and when they are open, everybody knows. So his question is, why do I need to network?  I apply following their specific instructions and I then I wait for the search committee to call me. It would not be appropriate for me to directly contact a member of the search committee. What else is there to do?

I can think of three reasons you should continue networking.

  1. Networking into any of those organizations can help you learn more about their culture and issues. That information can help you prepare for an interview, or possibly help you conclude that you don’t want to work there.
  2. Networking lets many more people know about who you are and what you’re good at.  You may network with someone who already has a strong relationship with someone on the search committee. That networking contact can then talk to the search committee member about you and you have not created a conflict of interest.
  3. Finally, we’re back to not putting all your eggs into one basket. While clearly your goal is to land one of those dozen jobs, there is a reasonable chance that you won’t.  Building a network that covers other jobs, other industries, or other locations may produce an opportunity you were not considering, or it will give you a jump start for the next chapter, if the desired opportunities don’t work out.

The bottom line is that you should never stop networking and researching.  Finding your next job needs to be a full time job. If you find yourself getting bored, maybe you are not working hard enough.

If you need some help, read this.

Do I Have to Network?

Simple answer.  No, not if you are not in any hurry to find a good job.  Feel free to search the internet and apply for every job that might fit you.  Practice telling yourself that it’s not your fault.  Blame in on the economy, or maybe on the corona virus.

Here’s the bottom line.  For whatever reason, you lost your job, and you need a new one. From my experience, the best way to find a new or better job is networking.  Networking means talking to people and getting to know them. Make sure they know about you, what you do, what you’re good at, how you’ve been successful before.  Then, asking them for names of people they know who you could also meet and tell them the same things.  Then, thank them for their help, and finally, be willing to do the same for others.

Networking requires you to be vulnerable.  It requires you to interact with people you don’t know.  Networking may be uncomfortable for some.  But it is the only way you’ll be exposed to the 75% of jobs that are never advertised.

Now, let’s get out there and knock on some doors.

If you need some help, read this.

I’m Back – Sorry I was late

Around 20 years ago I had an idea about a book that would help job seekers find their next job.  The company I was working for was about to be sold and as the HR Director, I knew that the acquiring company was only interested in the manufacturing components. All of the administrative staff, including me, would be RIFed.  I knew I would have some time on my hands, and maybe I could use that time to not only find my next job, but to help others find theirs. 

Fifteen years later, we published I’m Fired?!?!  Now, five years after that, I’m excited to announce the second edition.  A lot has changed over those 20 years. When I was writing the first draft, I accessed AOL via a dial-up connection.  About the only thing online was email and a few games.  In this edition, I take the entire outplacement process online. There is a new chapter about how to navigate job websites. There is another new chapter about using social media. There are also some new characters with new perspectives on the search process.

What hasn’t changed is the comprehensive approach to dealing with losing your job and finding another.  I try to help the reader deal with the personal side of getting fired.  As you follow along with Bob and his fellow job seekers to you can see how some people react and hopefully get some advice on how you might handle these problems.

The book follows Bob Smith as he gets RIFed, is provided an outplacement program and uses what he learns to find a new job.  While this book is no replacement for a formal outplacement program, I hope that by following Bob Smith’s story, you too can know that you are not alone. There are people along the way that will help you. And, if you treat finding a job as the most important job you’ve ever had, you will find one.

If you are job seeker, the book will help you. If you are an HR Professional, consider giving the book to those you have to let go.  Let’s get everybody back to work.                                                                                  

If you want advice on how to write a resume, how to network, or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another.  Now available on Amazon.