You see an advertisement in the paper. You apply for the job. You have all the right qualifications. You are happy with your performance in the interview. You are preparing to celebrate.
Then you hear someone else has got the job. It is someone 'the boss' knows.
You are angry and frustrated. ‘Nothing is ever going to happen in this God-forsaken country’, you think. ‘It is just full of corruption and nepotism. I will never get a job.'
Just stop for one moment and ask yourself, what good is this kind of thinking doing you? Is it helping you get a job? No. The truth is not only is this kind of thought fruitless, it is also inaccurate. While giving the job to the nephew who has no clue how to do it might be unethical and stupid, giving a job to someone you know is neither unethical, nor uncommon. The truth is, people all over the world give jobs to people they know, or know of. In fact 60 to 90% percent of job openings in the U.S. are not filled through advertising, recruiters or other traditional methods. They are filled through informal contacts.
And why not? Just imagine that you are an employer with an opening to fill. Which of the following would you be most eager to interview: (a) an unknown person who answers your advertisement, (b) an unknown person who mails you a resume, or (c) a friend recommended by someone you trust? No doubt, you would choose the ‘friend’.
So instead of blaming the employer for giving the job to someone they know, it is smarter to start viewing networking as a valuable skill for getting a job. Mark S. Granovetter, a sociologist from Harvard, reports after years of research, that ‘informal contacts’ account for almost 75 percent of all successful job searches in the US. Agencies find 9 percent of new jobs for professional and technical people, and advertisements yield another 10 percent or so. And according to a Wall Street Report, 94 percent of successful job hunters claimed that networking had made all the difference for them.
Networking helps you in two ways. It helps you get information about jobs, and it helps employers get information about you. And it isn’t only for a specific type of people. Anyone can network, if they put a little effort and be aware of a few things. Here are some tips:
Remember, you can network anywhere
Your family and friends, professors and co-workers, weddings and social gatherings, college alumni associations and recreation clubs, anyone can be a source of information. Don’t hesitate to get introduced to new people. Remember their names, and develop a system to record their contact information, such as a diary, a box to hold business cards, or a computer file. Distribute your cards, and follow up on your new acquaintances from time to time.
Believe in Yourself
People will remember you only if you sound genuinely confident. And unfortunately, this cannot be faked. So spend sometime to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Do you genuinely believe you have the necessary skills to do justice to the kind of job you are looking for? What are your unique strengths? What are the skills that you still need to develop? Take steps to develop those skills.
But, remember it's not enough to have great talents and qualifications to get a job. You have to sound great too! Spend some time and prepare 5 to 10-second statements about yourself and what you have to offer. Your listeners will recognize you are professional and be more willing to help.
Know what you want
The more specifically you know the kind of job (or business contract) you are looking for, the more you will get out of networking, because you will be able to direct the conversation at that direction. At the same time, be open to new and unexpected information and opportunities.
Try to network with people who already work where you want to work
Many firms report that 40 to 50 percent of their openings are filled by candidates referred to by staff members. Companies usually view such candidates more favorably than those brought in through other methods. So if you have a specific organization or specific kind of job you want to work for, try to get in touch with people who work there. This will not only give you information about vacancies, or increase the chances of their referring you, it will also give you inside information about the company’s expectations from its employees and even help you learn the company lingo. This kind of information can be invaluable later.
Remember, the goal of networking is not to get a job but to build relationships
All too often, we turn networking into harassing. We ask people for a job as soon as we meet them, we put pressure on them, we sound artificial or desperate. This annoys them, and instead of helping us, they feel like avoiding us. So it is better not to view every person we meet as just a job opportunity or ask them direct questions about 'their company'. If we try to understand the people we meet, build a long term relationship with them, that would be most rewarding in the long run.
Never hesitate to help others
A gentleman was driving from Dhaka to Chittagong, when suddenly he had a flat tire. He was wearing a spotless white shirt that he didn’t want to get dirty, but seeing no other way he set out to change the tire himself.
A young man was looking at him from a distance. After a while, he came forward and offered to help. The gentleman, though skeptical at first, accepted his offer.
After he has fixed the tire, the gentleman offered him some tips, but he refused. When the gentleman asked him what he did, he said he was a driver.
The gentleman already had a driver, but he later said if he had needed one, he would have offered the young man a job then and there.
So never hesitate to use your skills to help others, in a formal or informal setting. You never know who is a potential employer. Never shy away from voluntary or temporary work, if it is the type of work you would life to do. If you make a good impression with your new client, you could gain full-time employment in a few months.