Up to 80% of vacancies can go unadvertised making networking a crucial job search strategy. This unadvertised job pool is often referred to as the hidden job market. Building and maintaining strong professional networks and being direct and pro-active in your job search is how you access the hidden job market.
Networking is a skill that you learn, so give yourself time to hone your technique. Its vital to make genuine professional connections, networking is about mutual benefits, its a two-way street. Creating genuine bonds will assist you to achieve your career goals. There's no better time to start than the present and practice will build your confidence
Networking is a focused effort to:
- engage with the people you know,
- develop new contacts,
- actively seek out new advice, knowledge, ideas and referrals,
- build relationships in advance of needing them,
- help people and in turn be helped,
- get to know people who are in a position to hire you,
- build your reputation.
There are many ways to network. If you don't feel comfortable with a group approach, then try out an approach that requires one-on-one interaction.
If social media is your networking strategy of choice, be sure to also network with people through face to face strategies; the value of a meaningful human interaction should not be forgotten.
Social media now enables you to connect with millions of people globally and has evolved into an important career management and networking tool. LinkedIn is number one in the ranks of professional social media and provides the opportunity to connect with interest groups, colleagues, professional associations and organisations of interest.
Get involved in groups and events such as professional associations, student clubs and societies and leadership events. Engage as a leader or a committee member, attend meetings, conferences or professional development events. You can volunteer and help out for many groups or events.
Actively seeking out opportunities to contribute knowledge to a group can increase your credibility and build your reputation to peers and potential employers.
Tap into your existing network of friends, family, neighbours, former employers, fellow students and academic staff. Do any of these people have contacts who are working in your intended industry or occupation?
Interviewing an industry professional is a proactive approach to getting advice and feedback for your job search. The benefits include:
- Broadening your knowledge of career options
- Identifying job opportunities and tune into the professional job market
- Expanding your network
- Gaining insight into hiring practices and what employers are seeking