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Social Networking for Job Hunters

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Greg Kirkland points out ways in which social networking can help you to find your next job, as well as making it the best job for you.
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In today's job market, you need an edge. For most jobs, you can forget about reading the employment ads in the newspaper. The edge you need is social networking, the online interaction you get from professional networking sites. Believe in the old adage, "It's not what you know, but who you know."

Why Networking Works

Employment experts believe that 60–75% of all job openings are never advertised; that's why we network.

Why aren't all of the jobs posted? For one reason, because the hiring company saves money by not posting ads or hiring recruiters. Posting job ads is expensive, and recruiters can charge up to 30% of the first year's salary of the new hire. Often, companies don't want to pay those fees. Instead, they feel that a deep talent pool will find them if they just post the job on the company website, or that they can handpick candidates to interview by using job boards.

A better method for bringing in a new employee is from an employee referral via networking. The benefit to the company is finding someone who is already trusted by one of the company's own trusted employees. In addition, posted jobs may receive hundreds of résumés, many from people who don't meet the job requirements. That situation overwhelms the human resources department. So networking helps you to find out about the jobs that aren't listed, in order to reduce the competition! Makes sense, doesn't it?

Why does networking work? Because people want to help—it's human nature. When asked for help by a friend in need, we generally do whatever we can to assist. When I began searching for a new job, I put the word out to my family and friends. I was overwhelmed by the responses I received. I didn't know that so many other people knew one of my friends. It enabled me to stretch my network larger to encompass more people who were looking out for me. It was a humbling experience.

Here's an important fact about networking—you're not asking for a job. Your task in networking is only to ask for information that may lead to a job. Chances are that the person you're asking isn't an employer who has a job for you, but he or she knows someone else who does have a job opening. Your next employer might be someone already working at that company, who is a friend of a friend of a friend. If I know Brad, and Brad knows Ray, and Ray works for Boeing, then I have someone I can trust to give me an inside perspective on what it might be like to work for Boeing. Ray may also be someone to help pass along my résumé to human resources and the hiring manager, which improves the odds that my résumé will be reviewed for a possible match to a job opening.

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