Finding a job through professional networking

When a company identifies a need for a new role, more often than not the first place they look is internally

Tue, December 10th, 11:54

   

‘Does anyone know a good person for this job?’ This is a global practice and makes sense as very often a good recommendation goes a long way in an interview process – an employer will always be keen that their new hire ‘checks out’.

Therefore, when searching for a role online, it may be a case that a company will only advertise a fraction of roles that exist in the organisation. In many cases, the ‘outside world’ never finds out about such roles. As a result, the process of networking becomes essential in helping you to discover new job opportunities.

The approach to networking varies. For senior level candidates, a consideration is to look back at your career and consider ‘Who, in particular, did I work with who may be with an organisation that would be attractive now?’ One of the real benefits is that your former colleague will know your strengths and act as the right person to introduce you to the organisation, which will go further than even the best cover letter.

To many people the idea of reaching out to friends and associates to find a job can feel rather disconcerting. Thankfully, networking is something you already know how to do instinctively because you successfully network with other people almost every day.

What is networking?

Networking is about building worthwhile relationships that are mutually beneficial. It can begin with something as simple as a conversation with a friend, colleague or family member. The first thing you must do is determine who is in your immediate network and identity how each person can be of assistance to you. Try to understand what specific attributes and knowledge your contacts can provide you with. Networking must become an intrinsic part of your life. This is achieved by reaching out to others and offering them as much support and assistance as you expect in return. This is a reciprocal process, which helps to build trust in your relationships and also serves to develop your network’s overall value.

If one of your friends or colleagues knows of a suitable job opportunity being advertised internally by their employer, ask them to recommend you directly to their hiring manager. Have a think about how you would ask them – if you were in their situation, what would be the most comfortable way for this to take place and give them an easy way out, in case there are factors at play you are not aware of. All going well, this referral will allow you to circumvent the stacks of applications being submitted by other candidates.

Identify your network:

Many people quickly disregard networking as a means of finding a job because they believe their social circle is too small. This is simply not true; make a list of all of your immediate friends, family members, former bosses, peers, college professors, neighbours and casual acquaintances. You may not immediately realise it, but all of these people are part of your network. Not all of these people can help you find a job, but they may know someone who can. By identifying who these people are, you will be able to extend your network further.

A ‘little and often’ approach seems to work well and by continuously growing and developing your network to include other social groups. Each individual person associated with these civic society groups will serve as a bridging connection to another network, and so on and so forth. This pattern of exponential growth is the primary driver of career networking.

Many of the professional bodies in Ireland such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Law Society organise a number of events with networking at the core. As well as hearing about who is hiring and opinions on what a company is like to work with, networking on this capacity is also an opportunity to discuss service providers, the business environment, how the competition is doing and a range of useful business information. It is no coincidence that a high number of finance directors in Ireland seem to have built a strong network of support on their way up.

In conclusion:

Successful career networking requires you to give back as much assistance as you receive. Maintain regular contact with those who help you most frequently. Offer them advice and any assistance when you are able. Even if you can’t provide practical solutions to their issues, you can at least offer them moral support and encouragement. This genuine interest on your behalf will help to cultivate a strong and productive bond between you both and ultimately bolster the quality of your network in the future. If you are keen to lift your networking game in 2014, a simple resolution may be to simply accept invites to events and gatherings – once a week/fortnight/month depending on what you are hoping to achieve.

Paul McClatchie

The Irish Times