How Do We Network?
Posted on October 26, 2011 by Gail Danneman
As my graduation date in May 2012 draws near, I will begin the search for a full-time job. In speaking with many of my mentors, one piece of advice seems to come up time and time again: Network. A key to getting a job in our tough economy comes down to who you know. I have heard success stories from many peers who had a friend of a friend working at a particular company that eventually led to a job offer. What does networking look like in 2011?
When we are looking for a job, typically we are interested in finding a company that would be a good “fit” for us as individuals. We want to work with coworkers who are similar to us and share similar views. This is a very basic social concept. Birds of a feather flock together. Therefore, if we have a friend working at a company with a current job opening, it may be our friend that mentions the job opening to us. Why? Because our friend knows we are similar and feels that we will fit right into the organization. And most likely our friend will mention a job opening to us because they feel we are qualified and would perform the job successfully.
Hoye, Hooft, & Lievens (2009) state that we often use networking as a preparatory tool when searching for jobs. Before we look at the classified section and search exhaustively through Monster.com, we most often use our networking skills to find a job. If networking does not result in possible jobs, we will then consult other resources that may be available to us. Quite often networking can occur when we currently have a job, but are considering looking for a new job. Therefore, if networking does not bring about different job possibilities, the search may end at this point.
How we network with one another on a professional level has changed over the years. Greater emphasis is now placed on social networks. How many connections do you have on LinkedIn? What does your picture look like? I recently attended a presentation by an Executive Human Resource Director for a major bank and she described how human resource departments utilize these resources. She stated that if a candidate does not have a picture posted on his or her LinkedIn account, there is often question as to why there is not a picture. Candidates with a picture are typically regarded more highly because he or she is not trying to hide anything. Hard to believe that companies make judgments about our social media profiles, but this happens every day in organizations.
Does networking work better than traditional job searches? Studies have found that time spent networking has led to more job offers compared to traditional job searches such as classified sections, internet postings, and job fairs (Hoye, Hooft, & Lievens, 2009). With this in mind, spending more time networking rather than spending hours online searching for jobs may be your best bet to find a job.
How does one begin to network? Because I will be relocating after graduation, networking has been my main focus as I begin to search for jobs in my new city. I have used my network in my current city to investigate if there are connections in my new city. For example, a graduate of my program landed his first job in the city I will be relocating to. So, I have reached out to this individual about job search suggestions. I have also joined groups on LinkedIn specifically for people relocating to this city. Almost every large city in the country has a group for people relocating or seeking jobs. I have found that being creative is a key to building a network, especially in a city where my beginning network was very weak.
Do you believe networking is more important now than it was years ago? How do you network?
Hoye, G., Hooft, E., & Lievens, F. (2009). Networking as a job search behavior: A social network perspective. The British Psychological Society, 82, 661-682.