Networking & the Hidden Job Market

The majority of jobs available at any one time are usually filled through informal search methods, such as personal contact and professional networking.

Because of this, many vacancies are never even advertised. Experts estimate that, in some cases, as many as 80% of open positions are filled through direct contact with employers and referrals. Unfortunately, most people spend about 80% of their time responding to want ads or other job postings. Your time and effort during a job search are usually best spent cultivating professional relationships, networking and conducting informational interviews with those who are in a position to hire you.

Networking

Networking is the process of cultivating relationships with others in a meaningful, ongoing basis in an effort to obtain or provide information, resources and/or support.  Building and maintaining a professional network is essential to being successful in today’s job market. If you are new to a career field or are thinking about changing professions, networking – and informational interviewing in particular – are especially important. Establishing relationships through network connections can serve you well in determining your next job, career path and future.

Your Existing Contact Network

Everyone has contacts. Life would be impossible without them. Your existing contact network may not contain decision makers in your career field, but a few, carefully selected people from the list will be useful as starting contacts on which to build your own career contact network.

Almost anyone can be a networking contact. Start by thinking about all of the people you may already know:

Family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, former roommates, school associates, fellow alumni/alumnae, professional associations, fellow job seekers, mentors, club associates, doctors/dentists, lawyers/accountants, insurance agents, real estate agents, bankers and all past associates.

While traditional job search methods can produce a certain level of success, non-traditional methods such as networking can be more effective in providing access to the hidden job market. When going through the job search process, focus your efforts on proactive job search strategies in addition to the less effective reactive job search strategies.

In summary, you will be most effective using a variety of methods in your job search. While traditional approaches such as responding to advertisements, contacting temporary employment agencies, databases and attending career fairs can produce a certain level of success, focusing on other methods such as networking and establishing direct contact with employers can be more effective in providing access to the hidden job market.