Being referred to a hiring manager by a trusted person increases an applicant’s odds of being hired 50–100X, according to Lou Adler, author of Performance-Based Hiring.
With odds like that, any job seeker would be foolish to ignore the power of networking. In fact, for an effective and efficient search, networking should be your primary strategy.
Not all executives believe this, however. I’ve heard lines like these countless times in my many years as a resume writer/career advisor:

  • “I’ll contact a headhunter and let him or her find a job for me.” [Recruiters don’t find jobs for candidates, they find candidates for companies. This is a critical distinction.]
  • “I’ll just post my resume/CV online. I know recruiters will be interested in my background.” [Trolling for resumes is not what executive recruiters do. Rather, they use a variety of resources to find good potential candidates. They want to find people who are active in the industry, thought leaders in their functional areas, and high performers at competitor companies. Often they prefer passive candidates.]
  • “I’ll just look for openings online. I know companies have to post all jobs to meet fair-hiring requirements.” [Sure they do. But that doesn’t mean they have to select candidates only from the pool of resumes submitted online. Referred candidates always have an advantage.]

If you embrace the concept of networking during your job search, you will find that the process becomes more personal, less stressful, and more enjoyable. Here are some ideas for making the most of your network of friends and colleagues:
When you see a posted opening that interests you…Use your network to find a link to someone who works at that company. Before submitting your resume/CV, reach out to that contact to learn more about the company, the hiring manager, the opportunity, and more. Ask for a referral to the hiring manager and approach that person directly. If and when you apply online, customize your materials to match what you learned.
After you identify your target companies…Look for a connection to someone at each company and reach out for an informational phone call or cup of coffee. You are not a “job seeker,” you are a professional seeking the wisdom and advice of another professional. Use what you learn to refine your search – perhaps targeting a specific executive or department, or perhaps moving on to another company if your initial target does not seem a good fit.
Before you contact recruiters…Ask your contacts to recommend search firms they have used as either a candidate or an employer. Use the referral to make direct contact with an individual rather than sending your resume blindly to a search firm.
Once you have scheduled an interview…Gather as much information about your interviewer, the company, and the industry as possible, using your network of contacts for “insider information.”
With a networking approach, you will transform your search from a shotgun (high volume, wide spread, poor accuracy) to a laser (lower volume, precisely targeted). Your interactions become “humanized” colleague-to-colleague discussions rather than impersonal mass-marketing messages. You remove yourself from the job-seeking herd and pursue each opportunity as a favored referral – more than 50 times as likely to be hired!


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