Land the Ideal Job Using Social Networks

With at least 60% of job-seekers finding employment through networking, it's no wonder that people are turning to their colleagues and acquaintances for advice and help in finding employment. The old adage, "It's not what you know, but who you know" rings true when it comes to sources of labor in today's economy.

The Traditionalists

In the recent past (and even today for some unbending traditionalists), if you were unemployed you would focus on perfecting your resume, scour through the classifieds, or spend $5K getting help from an employment firm only to end up with outdated job leads and generic career advice ? but still no job.

While these tactics are still important to employ as part of an overall job hunt, it seems like a lot of work and energy (never mind monetary resources we don't have) when you consider the 60% of people who are finding jobs via referrals and relationships they've built.

Dinosaurs can Change

But even old Traditionalists can learn new tricks. Take my close colleague, J.M., for example ? an experienced traditionalist and professional in the insurance agency who is just now 'succumbing' to e-mail technology and implementing it in his daily interactions with customers. Some people are slow to adopt new technology. J.M. is slower. So when I told him I was launching (a social networking tool for professionals) and explained it helps people to create new contacts and build their network via their existing contacts, I fully expected him to turn and run. Instead, he replied (via e-mail) "Give me a demo sometime. You never know. Dinosaurs can change. "

And he's right. People change? but only when the old way isn't working anymore. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. No one wants to be insane.

Enter the Social Network

Social networks provide a fresh avenue for professionals to make new contacts without the time expenditure incurred attending mixers or scheduling lunches. Based upon the six degrees of separation theory, whereby you and anyone you could want to meet are separated by a maximum of six people/connections, social networks have become an extremely helpful resource tool for job hunters and employers alike.

Unlike sites built on classified ads, social networks like promote traditional networking, building relationships by e-mail and interviews. Instead of hunting for a specific job, members of the network look to reach out and expand their network ? in turn expanding their job opportunities. Often, building connections with other members results in accessing top jobs that aren't published in classifieds or traditional job postings.

The concept behind using social networks to find a job is easy: The more connections you make within the network, the more friends-of-a-friend you can meet, and the better your chances of finding an employer or key contact who can make an introduction resulting in employment for you.

Networking Online

Why do it all online? Why not take the concept and just apply it to your own existing inner circle? The answer: Diversity. Chances are, the people who are already in your network probably feel the same way you do about pretty much everything. You probably agree on most matters and likely have a large number of similar contacts. And those contacts that you don't already know, you probably weren't even aware your colleagues knew. They didn't think to introduce you because the obvious synergy between you wasn't obvious to them.

Using a social network like gives you access to your colleague's contacts without them having to determine who you would or wouldn't benefit from knowing. You can search through contacts and request an introduction with ease. In addition, because most social networks aren't limited by demographics the diversity is incredible. Take for instance, where you can request a connection with the Chaplain of the Oakland Raiders, a Norwegian Software Programmer, a Sales Professional representing Usana Health Sciences, or a Professional Recruiter from Illinois.

Mixing it Up

Of course, it's recommended that you use online tools to complement, not replace, traditional efforts. Networks aren't an instant fix. It takes time to build relationships, but once they've been established the pay off is great. Think of it as a whole new set of contacts and opportunities, or perhaps the tool that might just help you land your ideal job. After all, it's not what you know ? it's who you know.

About the Author:

Sherry Schuller is President of Viral Commerce, Inc. and Zabbo Communications. She is the founder of the Conference on Strategic Growth for Businesses and Entrepreneurs, co-author of 222 Ways to Entrepreneurial Success, and has assisted many organizations with strategic planning, branding, marketing, advertising design, training, and application development. She was previously an Internet Specialist for IBM's leading North American distributor, Business Partner Solutions (now Avnet), and an independent consultant for various firms, including PRIMEDIA, Inc., the leading provider of targeted content and integrated marketing solutions in consumer and business-to-business sectors.

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