(or How I Learned to Move on From the Job Boards and Love Networking)
2-4% of jobs are found by online applications through websites like Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, etc.
80% of jobs are found by networking.
65% of reported statistics are made up.
Ok, the last stat may not be true, but my sources tell me that the first two are true. So that means that time spent networking will yield a job 20-40 times more often than time spent getting lost in the reams of applications companies receive via the big job boards. Most people would say here "I'm not a math whiz." But I am a math whiz, and I can tell you that if you're spending the vast majority of your time job hunting via a method that has a 2-4% success rate, you're wasting your time.
So how should I spend my time? NETWORKING!!!
How do I network? That's a good question, but the answer is easier than you think.
If you're reading this, it means you can use a computer and the internet. Good job. Here's an easy step-by-step set of instructions that will help you discover networking opportunities.
- Go to www.google.com (or www.bing.com if you believe the commercials and haven't been completely brainwashed by Google). Does anyone actually search with Yahoo or MSN anymore?
- In the search box, type "networking [insert name of your city here]"
- Please be smart enough to replace [insert name of your city here] with the actual name of your city, ie. Chicago, New York, Kalamazoo, Intercourse.
- If you aren't smart enough to follow step 3, I'll save you the trouble of googling "networking insert name of your city here": http://bit.ly/a0HFp6
- Yes, Intercourse is a city. It's in Pennsylvania. http://bit.ly/amrt5e
- Start clicking on the various links and reading about your options for networking opportunities.
- If you live in a small town, use the name of the closest big city (or bigger town) instead of your town.
(Shoutout: If you live in Chicago, check out the calendar posted by @InteractiveAmy at http://interactiveamy.com/networking-event-calendar/ - This is good good stuff. Amy has her digital fingers on the pulse.)
Now that you have a solid list of networking events in your area, here are some key suggestions and guidelines that will help you network like a pro:
- Try out different types of events in your area. Some are better than others.
- Use the local chapter of your industry-specific organization (ie. PRSA, SHRM, Bar Association, etc) for industry-specific events
- Note the pricing: Most events have a cover charge. Just make sure that you're getting something good out of it, like an open bar, appetizers, or a new car. But if it's a really awesome event that you know you can't pass up, and there's absolutely no chance you'll walk out of there with keys to a new car, that's ok, you can go to the event.
- Bring business cards. Sure, if you're employed, that's easy. Your company probably gives you business cards. But if you're in transition like I am, you have to make your own cards. Do not (I repeat, do not) print them at home on the Avery business card templates. Those look bad. Instead, order them online. I used OvernightPrints and found their designs, shipping and pricing to be the best. Plus, I found a coupon for 500 cards for free. All I paid was shipping.
- ZZ Top said "every girl's crazy about a sharp dressed man." Well, this isn't the 80's, but the principle applies. You're going to meet people who may be able to help you find a new or better job, and they're more likely to offer themselves as a resource if you make a good first impression. So be a sharp dressed (wo)man. It's better to overdress than underdress. And many other things that Tim Gunn would say.
This seems like a lot, because it is. But it's the way to find a new or better job opportunity, expand your list of contacts, or just make new friends. Career professionals may have varying viewpoints on a lot of issues,m but the one thing they'll all agree on is that you have to get yourself out there if you want to make something happen, and networking is the way to do it.
So I'm sorry Careerbuilder/Monster/etc/etc, it's not you, it's me. I'm on the search for a new job, and I'm focusing my energy on the method with the proven higher rate of success.
But that doesn't mean we can't still be friends...