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The Paradox of Networking vs. Job Postings

I had a discussion with a senior level executive recently about the best way they can find a new job. I was encouraging them to network with as many people as they can to gain information, leads, and referrals.

They were cynical of the recommendation. They pushed back saying… It seems like a waste of time talking to a bunch of people to see if they know about a possible job opening when there are so many jobs posted online that you know are open!

Logically, they were right! It does seem inefficient to be networking to find possible openings when there seems to be so many actual openings easily accessible.

This person, like many others I talk to had already been looking for quite a while. So my question back to them was… How’s that been working for you?

Most people, in their job search, do the same as most others… they search online job postings endlessly, apply for job after job, and get discouraged because of the lack of results. They occasionally get phone screens, or even in-person interviews, however, rarely ever actually land a job.

The reason? Because once a job is posted online, every other job seeker is now aware of it as well, and the competition is staggering! Even if you are a great fit, it is so easy to get lost among the sea of other applicants, whether they are qualified or not. There are a great number of people that apply for a mountain of jobs, even if they are not qualified, hoping they may get lucky and something will stick. When your resume lands in the online application system, even if you are the best fit for the role, it’s easy to be missed.

What’s achieved in networking is finding, and being considered for positions before the rest of the world knows about it, or to gain an opportunity to make contact with a decision maker rather than just remain a piece of online data along with the sea of other applicants!

When you are one of a small handful of candidates, rather than one of dozens or hundreds, your odds of landing a role are dramatically improved.

Surveys consistently show that jobs are filled within organizations through some form of referrals or networking at overwhelmingly greater rates than any other form of recruiting.

So ask yourself… If that’s how most jobs are filled, why wouldn’t I spend most of my time pursuing that avenue?

Those same surveys show that 12% or less of open positions are filled through response from job advertising, online or otherwise. If the percentage is so low, why would you spend the vast majority of time pursuing those postings?

The key to effective networking is to help your contact see how they can be of help in additional ways beyond simply telling you about open jobs. Most contacts you encounter understand that you’re interested in hearing about appropriate job openings, but they’re not likely aware of what jobs are out there, even in their own organizations. It doesn’t necessarily occur to them though, that you may also be open to additional contacts, or company information, or referrals to other organizations. It’s your job to help them help you!

While it may seem inefficient to network for your new job rather than pursue online postings, the reality is your results are likely to be dramatically better. Sometimes, the counter-intuitive solution is the most effective!


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