After seeing thousands of successful and unsuccessful job applications there’s one key thing that separates whether you land an interview or not: and that is networking. Why is networking so important, you ask? LinkedIn, for example, estimate that 64% of job seekers get hired through a referral. According to a recent study 85% of jobs are filled via networking of some sort.
So we can say with confidence that networking is key to finding more opportunities and interviews. But how in practice can you yield results through networking and get closer to your ideal job? I have spent many years seeing how the most successful people network and there are several ways that people get results through networking. These are my top insider tips! The first is to;
1. Use technology to create opportunities
LinkedIn is the key technology in finding corporate opportunities. By following companies that interest you and looking out for suitable opportunities, you can be in the know when a company is hiring. But knowing who you can reach out to when those opportunities arise, or before those opportunities arise, is really beneficial.
Your network should include anyone who can assist you with your job search. It can include past and present co-workers, people directly working for a company you are interested in, bosses, friends with similar interests, colleagues from business associations or alumni from your university. Your network can also include family, neighbours, and anyone who might have a connection that will help. If you have connections at a certain company, they may be able to come to you about opportunities before they are even advertised. But it’s important to let them know you’re keen to hear about opportunities.
It’s estimated that between 70 and 80 percent of available jobs are never advertised online. Instead, recruiters hiring and managers may rely on networking, as well as word-of-mouth and inside contacts, to find and attract potential job candidates. By creating the connections through technology, you can be a part of that inside club!
2. Bypass technology when you need to
By having connections in place with key people at a target company, you can bypass technology. This may sound counter-intuitive as technology is everywhere when it comes to job hunting these days, especially in the form of Applicant Tracking Systems, but success in a job search is all about the human connection. Company career sites are designed to make the company’s life easier, and to have a way for thousands of applications to be submitted. Sadly they are often not built with a candidate’s best interests in mind. It’s worth noting that a candidate will only be hired if a positive connection is made, throughout the interview process.
So why not start building that human connection through networking from the outset? It shows that you are proactive and you have initiative as well! By being smart and networking through LinkedIn, you can bypass these tracking systems and look to get your CV to the top of the application pile by identifying the hiring manager.
3. Leverage referral schemes
Most companies now operate internal referral schemes, where their employees will receive a cash bonus if they recommend someone who ends up getting a job at the company. It’s worth investigating whether you know anyone working at the company, or know of anyone who could recommend you to someone at the company. So a 2nd level connection, as LinkedIn would call it. Even someone you don’t know, but build a relationship up with over time, may be willing to refer you.
The reason why leveraging referral schemes are important is because referred candidates tend to go right to the top of the application pile. In my last corporate role, over 50% of our hires were made through referrals made by existing employees - a huge number! Sadly many quality candidates, who applied through the careers site or through LinkedIn, without a referral, were rarely called to interview. Along with identifying a hiring manager and contacting him or her directly to bypass technology, this is the most powerful method of application. If your referral needs to go through a system to be referred, then that’s fine in this context.
Whilst absorbing these 3 tips at once may seem overwhelming, don’t let the influx of information get to you. As a job search and career coach, I often remind people that it’s all about taking one small step at a time…start with creating one quality connection at a company that really interests you and go from there. Quality networking takes time and is a skill that takes practice to develop.