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Networking: It's who you know!

by Katrina Michielsen

Why are only 10-20% of job openings advertised? Since employers don’t like to take risks when making hiring decisions, they will hire people that they know and trust from within the company and through their networks first. Advertising is often a last resort.

Networking is the best way to find those job vacancies that aren’t advertised. While many people feel uncomfortable networking because they don’t like talking about themselves or feel awkward meeting new people, it often gets easier the more you do it. The trick is to get started on your network. This doesn’t mean cold calling strangers or attending expensive networking events, it means talking to people within your existing network – your friends, family, current and past coworkers, current and former classmates, teachers, community members and neighbours. Use your existing network to begin those job search conversations.

To start networking, make a list of people you know and set up a telephone or in-person meeting with them. In that meeting, talk about what kind of work you are looking for, what makes you good at it, what employers you are targeting and other details that will help the individual know whether and how they can help you. Being specific is important. For example, a grocery store clerk would feel a bit lost if you say “I’m looking for some food,” but could point you to the exact aisle and location if you said “I’m looking for some bananas.” It’s the same with a job search. You need to do more than tell people that you need a job; you need to provide enough detail to enable them to help you effectively.

Once people know your skills and goals, ask them if they can introduce you to someone in your target occupation, someone who could potentially be your supervisor, or someone who works in your target organization. It’s also helpful for you to meet people who know a lot of other people. If each of your existing connections can introduce you to one or two other people, your network will grow very quickly.
When you meet new people, ask for advice and information as they may be uncomfortable talking about job opportunities the first time they meet you. And, don’t be discouraged! It might take a few tries before you actually get to talk to the right person and you might hear a lot of “No’s” before you get that one “Yes”.

If you need more information about networking or finding that employer who is looking for you, contact us for free assistance.