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Why Networking Works

You may have days as a job seeker when you think you'll scream if you hear that statement again. But that's when you need to step out of your own shoes -- and into those of an employer.

If you had a key entry-level job to fill -- and your butt was on the line to get it right -- whom would you hire?

  • Candidate A, a person you've never met, who responded to the ad you put in the newspaper and interviewed with you for 45 minutes, or
  • Candidate B, who comes highly recommended by a trusted colleague you've worked with for more than 10 years?

Unless you enjoy taking pointless, potentially career-threatening risks, you'll offer the job to Candidate B.

In a nutshell, that is why the networking activities you're constantly being encouraged to pursue as a job seeker are so vital -- and effective -- to job search success.

You've probably heard the statistics: Between 60 and 80 percent of all jobs are landed through networking. But have you ever wondered why it works so well?

Minimizing Risk

The US Department of Labor estimates that it costs 33 percent of a new hire's annual salary just to bring that person on board. So if you're an employer who hires a new college grad at $30,000 a year and that employee turns out to be a bust, your company is out at least $10,000. And if you keep up your poor hiring decisions, you'll be out of a job.

Given these realities, what will you naturally do when you're hiring? You'll look for ways to minimize risk to the company as well as yourself.

The best way to do that is to hire people you know personally. People highly recommended by people you know personally are almost as good.

In many cases, finding such people comes from their networking activities as well as your own. You'll suddenly remember that college senior who faithfully attended your local professional association's meetings for the last two years and repeatedly demonstrated her communication and organization skills by serving as coeditor of the association's quarterly membership newsletter.

Or maybe a trusted colleague at a company 200 miles away will recommend the just-graduated college student who interned at his company for two summers to glowing reviews and has just settled into an apartment in your city.

In short, you'll end up hiring a known quantity if you can. This also helps you bring someone on board more quickly, and thus more cheaply. Moreover, you'll end up offering the job to someone visibly active in and serious about your particular field -- not someone just giving it a try because nothing better came along. So there's less chance your new hire will be gone in a few months.

Doesn't networking look like a sensible job search strategy when you step back and think about it? Good. Now get out there and do some networking!

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