In my last networking post, I talked about how I snagged my current job by networking through a Facebook group. I’m so happy with the role, industry and office atmosphere I’m in, and I can’t praise my past self enough for posting in that group a couple months ago.
I don’t doubt that I’d still be tirelessly clicking “send” on Indeed applications had I not had the courage to reach out to others for help.
Now, the tables have turned. I’ve started reviewing applications for another role my workplace is hiring for, and let me tell you: It’s surreal. My perspective on work has shifted from beggar to court justice. With that, I’ve adopted a strange empathy for the people involved in hiring processes. It’s not an easy job to do, and it’s definitely not an easy job to do right — I can attest to that based on dozens of my own bad interview experiences.
The more I venture into the abyss behind the job listing curtain, the more I understand why networking — albeit digitally — was such a beneficial thing for me to do.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), referred applicants are 15 times more likely to land a job compared to those who apply through a job site. LinkedIn conducted a two-year study of 3,000 professionals, of which 85% landed their most recent job through networking.
Not convinced? Keep reading to learn indisputable reasons why networking is the fastest — and easiest — way to land a job.
You have more control over your first impression
Interviewing is the mastery of the facade. It was while I played the interviewee, and it still is, now, as I play interviewer. Every job description, cover letter and interview dialogue reads like a script — Maybe that’s why only 2% of job applicants make it pass the resume screening stage.
Networking, however, takes place in a much more lax environment. Be at a recruiting mixer, industry conference or alumni event, the ball is pretty much in your court. And while you should come prepared with a few job-seeking necessities, you can leave your interview etiquette study guide behind. Networking environments cater to genuine, thought-provoking, relationship-building conversations — far from those held in traditional interview scenarios.
Free from the time constraints of job interviews, networking also provides ample opportunity to discuss your qualifications in a relatable and memorable way. Just took a rough-but-rewarding coding class? Make light of it in conversation with a software engineer. Planning a big trip to Silicone Valley? Ask that CEO what local sites he recommends.
You reach decision-makers faster
During a typical application process, you work your way up the hierarchy.
First, you set up an initial interview with a recruiter or hiring manager. If you pass this stage, you then schedule a video call or in-person interview with middle management. If you’re still in the running, you go on to take a skills test, a personaity test or sit through a panel interivew. And if the stars happen to align in your favor, you land a meeting with the person responsible for making the final call.
The SHRM also found that the average interview process — beginning with an application and ending with a job offer — takes about four weeks. According to Officevibe, 60% of candidates consider a process’ lengthiness to be reason enough to drop out.
During my job hunt, the interview process stretched anywhere from four to six weeks. Some of those resulted in a formal rejection, while others sort of just fizzled out without resolution like a bad first date.
You make mistakes sooner
As with any professional situation, networking provides no guarantees. Maybe you don’t meet the founder of your dream company. Maybe you hand out hundreds of business cards and never get a call. The time spent feels worthless, and you do too, I know — I’ve been there.
I experienced my fair share of depressing days and sleepless nights during my post-grad job hunt. The disappointment of each subsequent rejection hurt more than the last, and each time I told myself “I can’t go through this again.” But after a day or so of justified wallowing, I set myself back on track. I took the lessons I’d learned from another bad experience, and I let them fuel me. I improved my resume, my LinkedIn page, my interview answers, my body language. Little by little, I learned to fail better.
See, failiing at networking is just as good as perfecting it. Meeting more people equals more insight, more advice, more constructive critique. More wisdom for a keener intuition. More blocks to build tougher skin.
No matter who you are, that’s worth it.
What's your favorite way to network with others in your industry?