When reviewing surveys of top job search techniques, networking is typically rated number one. Similarly, when evaluating the top sources employers use to hire, employee referrals is ranked as number one. Another words networking, since a person must speak to another person to be referred.
Networking is defined as a way of connecting and building relationships with people in your field or industry. It is not asking for a job, but rather approaching a person for help, assistance, information about the field, industry, trends, etc. It is also a means for requesting a referral to other people on your targeted list of people or companies.
While the benefits of networking are frequently discussed as the most effective technique to find a job, some job seekers question the value of networking.
The value of networking will be illustrated through the “Opportunity Curve” which is a model used in business to evaluate various economic concepts such as production efficiencies, costs opportunities, etc. When applied to networking in the job search process, the opportunity curve looks at the effectiveness and efficiency of networking within an organization at different stages of a hiring need. There are four stages of hiring needs:
1. No Need to Hire- The value of speaking with employers at this stage is that the job seeker is still making connections, creating visibility, developing their brand and reputation and may be able to receive a referral to others on their targeted list of people or companies. Additionally, in the future should an opportunity arise, a connection has been made, a relationship developed which will make it easier for the job seeker to contact this employer down the line and ultimately be given an opportunity to be considered.
2. Felt Need to Hire- The employer recognizes there is a need for a job as a result of growth, a person leaving, retiring or a promotion. The advantage of speaking with the employer at this stage is that the employer informs the job seeker of the need because the job seeker is perceived by the employer as a good candidate and a good fit. The job may be created for them and as the employer moves toward the formalized stage, the job description is created around the job seeker's qualifications.
3. Formalized Need- The employer begins to discuss criteria for the job and the job description is developed. The advantage of speaking with the employer at this stage is similar to the Felt Need stage in that the employer informs the job seeker of the need because the job seeker is a good candidate and a good fit. It is up to the job seeker then to express interest and probe further for details regarding how to proceed, actions to take and when to apply.
4. Recruiting- The employer is actively searching for the candidate on job boards, etc. The competition is fierce because all job seekers are aware of the opportunity.
The most effective and efficient time to be speaking with an employer is clearly when there is a Felt Need or a Formalized Need because the job opportunity is there with minimal to no competition to the job seeker. However, don't underestimate the power of networking. Keep in mind, even when there is no need, the person may be well connected in your field and industry, may know of a job and may refer you to their friend who has the need if the job seeker is perceived as a good qualified candidate!
So, remember the value of networking!!