Saturday, November 7, 2009

Employment Networking - Getting to the Other Two Thirds of the Jobs

The general rule of thumb is that a full two thirds of all jobs are never publicly advertised. You will not hear of these opportunities if your sole job search technique is checking internet-based job sites or speaking with placement companies. This point is critical to job seekers, yet often not acted upon most effectively. The only way to learn about such employment possibilities is through networking, meaning to speak with people that can provide you with critical market information and act as your eyes and ears.
I have worked as an employment advisor for a number of years, and for most people looking for work, intelligent networking is the most critical component of their job search. Although this is a new concept for many, it is not particularly difficult to understand, and the majority of people are able to begin the process and make great progress towards employment. However, I have also noticed that initially many people react negatively to the thought of networking, and the root cause of this reaction must be addressed in order to make progress.
Common reasons for not networking are:
  • I don’t have a network of contacts in Israel (i.e. no proteksia)
  • I don’t know how to network
  • Searching for jobs online is easy – networking requires more effort
  • I am not comfortable asking others for help
  • I tried networking before, but got nowhere
  • I am not currently seeking employment
Let’s go through these one-by one:
I don’t have a network of contacts in Israel (i.e. no proteksia)
For new immigrants, this is a common situation, although everyone will benefit from increasing the size of their network. Since we are living in the Internet-based 21st Century, making new connections has never been easier. With the large number of online networking sites (including LinkedIn and Israeli regional groups), there is no shortage of forums which are widely used and give you instant access to literally thousands of Israelis working in a huge variety of professions.
I don’t know how to network
Now is as good a time as any to learn. The truth is, you are almost certainly using the skills required to successfully network many times every day without even being aware of it. The objective of networking is to further your job search, getting access to those two thirds of jobs that are out there. Thus, these conversations, whether in person, by telephone, or by email, are meant to give you more information about your profession of interest, including what opportunities are out there now. Combining your normal conversational skills with this specific goal is all most people need to succeed.
Searching for jobs online is easy – networking requires more effort
Yes, networking requires a lot of hard work. However, if you know that most jobs can only be found by this method, then it is clearly worth the effort. Simply put, it is the best “bang for the buck” in allocating your valuable employment search time. Online sites absolutely have a place in every job search, but are best when used as a supplement rather than the main focus.
I am not comfortable asking others for help
This is a very common feeling, yet misplaced nonetheless. A person that is networking is absolutely not asking for a favor; neither a loan nor even directly for a job. Instead, you are engaging in professional to professional conversations. Imagine that someone approached you asking for advice and information – wouldn’t you be happy to respond? Networking works best when it operates in two directions; at this point you are turning to others to assist in your job search, and in the future these same people will know that they can call on you. It is a classic WIN-WIN situation.
I tried networking before, but got nowhere
Networking is a numbers game; the more you do it, the better your chance to get to the job that you want. It is also something that needs to be done with an eye towards the long term. Maybe you need to change your approach, perhaps you need to find additional new contacts, and possibly you need to spend more time at it. But whatever you do, don’t stop! There is no alternative to an effective job search.
I am not currently seeking employment
As my colleague Chaim Emmett of Israemploy says, the best time to network is when you are employed and not necessarily looking for work. Many people that read this article may not have this luxury, but it is important to understand the concept. Creating and developing a network is a lifetime effort, for employment and other purposes. The best people to turn to when you are seeking work are those that know you already, as you don’t need to explain to them who you are or of the value of your skills. As I wrote above, building new contacts during networking also works well, but speaking with previous contacts is extremely valuable. So, don’t forget that each person you speak with may well be able to be a resource when you are seeking work, now or in the future.
Networking maximizes the job seekers visibility to the largest number of job opportunities. It should be a critical aspect of virtually every job search, and investing time and effort in this technique, combined with searching online websites and other available resources, is the best way to conduct a sensible employment search.
Here are some articles related to networking:

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