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Networking in a Job Search: Why It’s Important and Where to Start

If you're looking for a job, networking should be at the top of your to do list. While job postings and online applications are an essential part of the job search process, they can also be extremely competitive, with hundreds of applicants vying for the same position. This is where networking comes in. By tapping into your personal and professional connections, you can uncover hidden job opportunities, get more interviews, and make meaningful connections that can help you land a job. 

Networking Is a Primary Way People Get Jobs

Networking is a critical element in the job search process, yet many job seekers underestimate just how impactful it can be. According to research, the majority of job positions are filled through some type of networking. In fact, many jobs are never posted online or in traditional job listings. Popular job search engines such as Indeed receive hundreds of applications per job posting, making it even more challenging to stand out from the crowd. Getting a warm introduction and referral to a company or hiring manager from someone in your network can help you get noticed in a hiring process.

Think Broadly About Your Network 

Oftentimes, job seekers will think about people they know professionally when they are trying to network during a job search. However, when it comes to networking for a job search, you should think a lot more broadly: you never know which connection - personal or professional - could help lead to your next job. It’s also important to remember that most of the contacts in your network won’t be hiring directly, but they can introduce you to people or companies who may be hiring. With that in mind, here are some groups to consider networking with: 

Prior work contacts: Former colleagues, supervisors, or clients that you've worked with in the past can be a great resource to tap into. They may be able to connect you with job openings or provide valuable insights into the industry or company you're interested in. Write down a list of all your past employers, and people you remember from each experience.

Prior employers: If you left your previous job on good terms, it might be worth reaching out to your former employer to see if they have any open positions or know of any opportunities in the industry.

Friends and family: Don't underestimate the power of your personal network. Your friends and family may have connections or know of opportunities that you wouldn't have found otherwise.

Community organizations: Your local community organizations such as places of worship or extracurricular clubs can also be a great resource. Attend events and get involved in your community to expand your network and learn about job opportunities.

Educational affiliations: Your alma mater or any other educational institutions you've attended can also be a valuable resource. Reach out to career services or alumni networks to see if they have any job listings or networking events that you can attend.

One last tip on this one - go through the contacts on your phone. While this can be a bit tedious, most people can find a lot more contacts that they can reach out to by going through this exercise.  

What to Include in a Networking Message

You’ve got your list and you’re ready to reach out - this can sometimes be a nerve-racking part of the process. It’s important to keep in mind that most people, particularly people you know, like to help.  With that said, the following guidance can help you craft a compelling networking message:

A brief introduction: Start by introducing yourself and reminding them of how you know each other.

Your purpose: Clearly state that you're looking for a job and are interested in learning about any opportunities or insights they may have. Include what types of companies or opportunities you’re looking for.

Your qualifications: Briefly highlight your experience, skills, and achievements that are relevant to those positions.

A call to action: Ask for their help and see if they have any leads or contacts that they can provide.

Gratitude: Always remember to thank them for their time and consideration.

By following these guidelines, you can craft a compelling networking message that will increase your chances of landing a job through your network.

Takeaway

Networking can be a powerful tool in your job search. By reaching out to your personal and professional network, you can tap into hidden job opportunities and gain an edge in the application process.