Orville Pierson’s Blog

My Networking Isn’t Working. Why?

Everyone knows that networking is important in job search, but what if you’re having trouble making it work for you? In fact, many job hunters have problems with networking, especially early in their search. If you’re in that category, I have some suggestions for you.

But first, a question: can you get interviews without networking? If so, maybe networking is less important for you. Are you one of those lucky people who can do the entire search with job postings or recruiters?

If you can get interviews through ads and Internet job boards, count yourself as blessed. Most people can’t. If you can get one good interview from every 40 or fewer resume submissions, and you’re finding 20 or more appropriate ads or postings a week, networking may not be an essential part of your search.

Here’s the math. On average, it takes five appropriate interviews to land a job. If you’re hitting one interview for every 40 submissions and making 20 submissions a week, that would be an interview every second week and you would land in ten weeks. If you’re further out toward the tail of the bell curve and it takes eight interviews, that’s 16 weeks.

Now recruiters. If you sent resumes to ten recruiters and got one invitation to interview, maybe you should send out resumes to another batch of recruiters. You might get the offer on the first one, but remember that recruiters often present a slate of four to six candidates. You may not hit on the first try, so get more resumes out now.

On the other hand, suppose you sent resumes to 50 appropriate recruiters three weeks ago and haven’t heard from any of them. I hope you’re not just sitting and waiting. It’s time to start working harder on your networking, right?

In that case, my first two questions are these: “Do you have a target list of at least 40 organizations on paper, and have you made a list of at least 100 people that you could potentially contact as part of your networking?”

Most people have more trouble with the 100 than with the 40. People usually start by saying that they don’t have 100. But they do. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and even young antisocial introverts who work in a cubicle all day and go home and watch TV alone every night have 100.

To make your list of 100, you may need to ask for help from a few people that you know well. The 100 do not need to be well-placed or in your home town. They can be anyone anywhere that you have easy access to on the phone.

If you don’t know what to do with these two central lists, you need to study up on networking some more. There are several thousand books on job search and most of them include material on networking. Maybe you should go read some. You could even read mine.

And talk to other job hunters about how they network, what works and what doesn’t. Social networking Internet sites like LinkedIn.com offer sophisticated tools for organizing contacts you may already have, and getting in touch with new ones. But please don’t assume that you can get the job done entirely on the Internet.

You need to talk to people.

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