Is it Your Career
Networking: Is it your Career Insurance Policy?
Take a deep breath and step back from the blogs, the news, the videos, the conferences, the thought-leaders and—just for a moment— your smart phone, to consider this.
Yes, the methods available to jobseekers to satisfy these criteria may have changed, but the criteria themselves are just as important to today as they were 20 years ago.
And, the good news is that technology has actually increased the ease and effectiveness with which we can build your network.
a quality CV through
which you can market
a proactive and
and most importantly,
the ability and
willingness to leverage
of landing a good job
remain the same:
of jobs are unadvertised*
referrals to source
candidate has a
35 to 1 chance
of getting hired, compared
with 500 to 1
for the typical candidate
of recruiters have hired through LinkedIn
of recruiters use LinkedIn to source talent93%
One in four
to source talent
Networking in person
Talk about yourself
Don’t ask for work
Have a plan
Join or create LinkedIn
groups (or similar)
Twitter, blogs, and
*Depending on industry and country. Source: #TruLondon event
The brave new world of job seeking
The employment market of today is a very different beast to
that of 20 years ago.
Technological advancement has forever altered the way that
we communicate and interact with each other. It has also
radically changed how we find, complete and advertise work
On one hand, the Web has opened the door to many new
work opportunities. Jobs that didn’t exist even five years ago
are now advertised through a vast array of online platforms,
and technology has enabled access to jobs across geographic
boundaries and employment jurisdictions.
On the other hand, however, the connectivity of the Web has
also increased competition for jobs at a time when economic
conditions are already putting pressure on employment levels.
Essentially, there is greater access to opportunities, but more
competition for them too.
To a job seeker, these conditions may make the prospect of
acquiring a great role, with a great employer, seem implausible.
In fact, faced with a deluge of information and an almost
overwhelming number of job-seeking avenues, it might even
Take a deep breath and step back from the blogs, the news,
the videos, the conferences, the thought-leaders and—just for
a moment— your smart phone, to consider this. Regardless of
the change occurring around you, the universal elements of
landing a good job remain these three things:
• a quality CV through which you can market yourself
• a proactive and professional approach to job-seeking,
and most importantly,
• the ability and willingness to leverage your network.
Yes, the methods available to jobseekers to satisfy these criteria
may have changed, but the criteria themselves are just as
important to today as they were 20 years ago.
And, the good news is that technology has actually increased
the ease and effectiveness with which we can build your
The growing importance of networks
If you believe the statistics, well over half of the jobs available
at any one time aren’t advertised to the public. Depending
on the industry and country, between 60% and 80% of jobs
aren’t advertised: they’re not listed on job boards or offered
through recruitment agencies. US reports1
suggest that 69%
of vacancies are filled through ‘networking’, and there is no
evidence that suggests the European job market is different on
this count. But what exactly does it mean to have landed a job
through your networks?
The concept of ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ has
always applied to the process of talent acquisition, but faced
with a contracting job market and the growth of networks
online, the trend of big corporates hiring candidates referred
by their employees is increasing.2
In fact, a 2012 Millennial
Branding and Experience Inc. study revealed that 44% of
use employee referrals to source new hires. A
referred candidate has a 35 to 1 chance of getting hired,
compared with 500 to 1 for the typical candidate.4
From Tru London transcript provided
For businesses, employee referrals reduce recruitment costs
and the length of time it takes to get a suitable candidate on
board: they can bypass the mountains of fruitless applications
generated through online job search sites and, arguably, find
people who are a better cultural match for their organization.
Increasingly too, employee referrals are
done through online networks—
through sites such as LinkedIn
and Facebook (depending largely
on your age group).
The rise of social recruitment
‘Social recruiting’ has become the next buzzword in HR circles.
This is all about sourcing talent by leveraging these social
media and other online networks, including those of company
sites. It is an approach from which employers garner two main
benefits: it allows them to address one of the main pitfalls
of the traditional recruitment process—the lack of overlap
between job-seeker communities and hiring managers—and
it also gives HR departments and recruiters the opportunity to
passively market the organization’s employer brand.
Essentially, employers and employees are building relationships
with each other well before a job opportunity that may suit
them both comes up. And, this means that job-seekers who
actively network throughout their career stand a far greater
chance of quickly landing a new job than those who don’t.
Those without an established set of professional connections
will be at significant disadvantage as companies will always
begin with their existing network of job-seekers first.
Networking, and branding yourself, long before you need to
capitalize on it is a career insurance policy. But is it the most
effective job-hunting tool?
The best network is not necessarily the biggest
The extent of your network, and its make-up, will largely depend on how long you’ve been in the workforce, as well as how you have
shaped your career. A professional network isn’t about the number of people who know your name, it’s about how many will refer you to a
prospective employer or help you climb the career ladder. A good network is based on trust—and that’s only built through direct, positive
contact with you.
So, you might have 500+ LinkedIn connections, but if the majority are from your current or most recent employer, or you have never
interacted with them beyond sending an invitation to connect, then the value of this network, in terms of being able to leverage it in a job
search, is questionable.
Real, mutually beneficial relationships with your connections will strengthen your network, as will ensuring its diversity. So, it’s vital to
approach networking in a way that will genuinely maximize opportunities and offer value to both sides.
Applying the same basic etiquette to online relationships that you would to offline relationships guarantees the strongest results. Namely,
be interested in others, respond personally and in a timely manner to requests and questions, and always be mindful of giving back where
Networking in person
In the Internet age it’s easy to feel that what you do online is
all that matters. While online activity is an increasingly strong
aspect of marketing yourself, you should apply some of these
basic tips when networking in person too:
• Talk about yourself – but not too much. Have a 15-second
elevator pitch that sums you up professionally in a friendly
and succinct manner.
• Show interest – listen more than you speak and ask
• Don’t ask for work – the purpose of your meeting should
be to gather information only, not to ask for a job. Never
put the person you’re meeting with in an awkward position.
Engage with them so that they want to help you.
• Have a plan – at every event you attend, plan to make
connections with between three and five people. At
informal one-on-one meetings, state your objective for the
meeting and subtly keep the conversation on track.
• Be professional – dress and act the part to ensure you make
a good impression. Always have clear, fresh business cards
on hand and remember to ask the other person for theirs.
• Communicate well – make eye contact, speak clearly and
shake hands firmly. Use the person’s name and at the end of
your interaction, thank them for their time.
• Be proactive – if meeting someone for an informal one-
on-one, research their organization prior to the interaction.
After the meeting, follow up with an email of thanks. If the
person connects you with someone from their network, let
them know how the subsequent meeting goes.
Whether you’re networking face-to-face or over a forum,
remember that it is a two-way street. Show as much of an
interest in the other person’s situation as you’d like them to
show in yours.
From creating online profiles and starting your own blog,
to connecting with recruiters or engaging with a company’s
corporate online community, there are many options for
establishing a professional online presence. As a minimum,
every jobseeker should have a thorough – and professional –
profile on LinkedIn or Facebook, but there are other, creative
ways to engage prospective connections. These include:
1. Join talent communities
According to blogger Stephanie Lloyd:
A talent community is an opt-in, interactive forum where individuals
with particular skill-sets and interests can interact in a personal and
meaningful way with corporate HR and company management in order
to better understand – and be a part of – the firm and all that it has to
Talent communities offer job-seekers the opportunity to connect with
current and past employees, recruiters and other job candidates, and
some include an employee referral feature.
Deloitte New Zealand’s ‘Into Deloitte’ Facebook page is a great
of a talent community.
2. Join or create LinkedIn Groups (or similar)
There are thousands of LinkedIn Groups that you can quickly and easily
join for almost every type of role and employment interest. Some
companies have their own Groups and will allow non-employees to join
for the purposes of talent engagement. If the right group for you doesn’t
exist, consider starting it yourself. Seek out people you think would find
it valuable and invite them to join. Consider how and what information
you can share within the group (either as the leader or as a participant) to
make it worth everyone’s time.
Unemployed college graduate turned Hubspot marketing writer Lindsay
Kirchell leveraged her LinkedIn profile to promote her blog, connect
online and offline relationships, and target hiring managers, and ended
up landing her dream job.6
3. Twitter, blogs and commenting on specialist sites/blogs
Following and engaging with company Twitter accounts, as well as key
influencers in your local area or field is a great way to get your name out
there and build knowledge as well as connections. Think about what you
can contribute to these existing conversations that demonstrates your
expertise. Remember, it’s not just about following people and reading
their blogs, it’s about asking questions, providing feedback and getting
Social media for recruiters
Once thought to be the exclusive domain of higher level
professionals, recruiters can now be considered a powerful
ally for jobseekers of any level—and social media provides an
accessible platform on which to build these relationships.
While employers still hire recruitment agencies to source top
candidates for their talent pools, the Internet now enables
them to cast the net much wider than was previously possible.
From managing a pipeline of talent via LinkedIn Recruiter
or Facebook’s networking apps, to participating in talent
communities, recruiters are constantly expanding and honing
Here’s a snapshot of recruiters’ activity in social media:
• 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source talent
• 89% of recruiters have hired through LinkedIn
• One in four recruiters has successfully sourced a candidate
• 54% of recruiters use Twitter to source talent
• Recruiters post jobs on Twitter, as well as Tweet My Jobs
and Twit Job Search7
Social media is now a key tool in any recruiter’s toolbox. They
use it to manage contacts, search for specific skills, and to
tap into all their contact’s networks in order to broaden their
Given that social media is front and center for recruiters, it pays
to bring these professionals into your own network and start
building a relationship well before you may need their direct
assistance to find work. Once you’re connected, you’ll be able
to advise them of any candidates within your own network that
may suitable for a role they advertise through social media,
or indeed to just check in with them from time-to-time about
trends, changes or opportunities in your industry. It’s these
kinds of mutually beneficial relationships that good networking
is built on, and recruiters are an important part
of that picture.
Now, as in the past, job seekers leverage their networks for
access to the ‘hidden job market’. The fact that they do this
hasn’t changed, but how, when and where they do it has.
In our post-social media world, the concept of a ‘network’
may have different connotations, but at its core it is still about
connection. And to the jobseeker, or people actively managing
their career, connections are still very, very important. Social
media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook enable
job seekers to develop dynamic online profiles that serve as
inbound marketing channels for their job search activities and
other interests. They also help us connect, interact and find
like-minded people to work with.
Learning to build a high-quality network that provides value
to both sides is still the key to being a good networker. And,
even as technology plays an ever-increasing role in helping
us to build and sustain our networks, the value they add is
still up to us as individuals. As they say, you get out of things
what you put in, and that’s especially true of our personal and