A recent study by Right Management revealed that more than 46,000 individuals selected networking as the most effective way to find a new job — the fifth year in a row networking has topped the list. The study data proves once again that, in the highly competitive job search, it’s who you know and who knows you that leads to successful employment.
Job seekers understand the importance of networking. They read up on job search experts’ tips for networking events, order hundreds of business cards and then hit local industry events like a job search Tasmanian devil, chatting up every professional and jotting down names of new connections to request on LinkedIn when returning home.
But too often, job seekers simply build up their networks to leave them untapped and unused in their job search. Why? Employers are using social networking sites to pre-screen candidates, and 92% of recruiters use social networking sites to find talent. Job seekers can also take the full advantage of a social network job search. All they need is a beginner’s guide, and it begins with “who.”
Who You Need in Your Social NetworkWhen it comes to what people you need in your social network, some may surprise you. Many job seekers mistakenly believe the best and only people they need to have in their social networks are fellow industry professionals, preferably higher up in the industry, who have accomplished a great deal. While these people are a component of job seekers’ social networks, they are just a piece of a bigger puzzle.
In fact, the ideal job seeker’s network is comprised of industry professionals as well as fellow job seekers in a variety of industries, former and/or current mentors, family members and friends. Why such a diverse group? Let me explain.
Fellow job seekers in a variety of industries are necessary in job seekers’ networks because they’re the people staying abreast of job search best practices. They hunt down job search help articles (like this one), subscribe to career newsletters, utilize social network job search tools such as tweetmyjobs and more. Fellow job seekers, whether they’re employed, underemployed or unemployed, are also the best at understanding the frustration of searching in our difficult job market. Their moral support is often more vital to job seekers’ psyches than actual job leads.
Former and/or current mentors, too, are great at providing overwhelming support and motivation as well as job leads and tailored recommendations in the job search. They can also share tales of early career setbacks to keep job seekers motivated in rough times. And family members and friends can refer and recommend job seekers within their companies.
How to Prioritize Your Social NetworkPrioritizing your social network begins with deciding what type of job you’d like and at what type of company you’d like to work. Job seekers must remember that previous positions in their industry don’t limit them to only applying for jobs within the same industry. For example, job seekers who previously worked as events managers at hotels aren’t limited to applying for hotel jobs. They can apply for event planning jobs at advertising or public relations agencies, non-profit organizations and large corporations that hold employee events, to name a few. A bit of career soul searching is required for successful prioritizing.
Once job seekers decide the type of job they’d like, prioritizing their social networks is actually quite simple. Job seekers’ most important connections will be those within the industry they’re pursuing. These connections are the most likely to know of open positions within the industry, and they can give job seekers the advantage of learning of those openings even before they’re advertised.
Below this group are connections with the same or similar positions in different industries. These connections will be able to provide the most accurate picture of what the position requires, and they’ll be able to tell job seekers how to best tailor the resumes to showcase how their experience is relevant. Hiring managers and HR professionals also tend to regard these professionals as the best for referrals and recommendations, since they understand the demands of the position in question.
Finally, job seekers have their remaining connections. Job seekers should regard these connections as important components of their network even though they may not be terribly helpful in their current job search. There is, of course, a chance these professionals stumbled upon an open position job seekers are looking for, but there’s a better chance that they’ll be helpful in future job searches, so maintaining mutually beneficial relationships is vital.
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Sudy Bharadwaj is a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, a web-based platform that combines search, social networking, and the overall user’s experience to provide relevant job openings. Learn how Sudy and Jackalope Jobs obsess over job seekers by connecting with them on , LinkedIn and Twitter.