3.4 Finding work
If you are currently seeking work, one reason for networking is that it is an effective way to access jobs which you might not otherwise hear about. You might find it a strange idea that you should look for jobs which might be ‘hidden’ or that you should focus your efforts on a particular company which interests you, especially if your experience so far has been of applying for advertised jobs. There is practical wisdom in using networks to help you to find work though.
In 2013, research found that 23% of employers reported that speculative or word of mouth approaches were their most effective method of attracting potential staff. In the same year, 33% claimed that referrals from existing staff were their most effective method.
Having a network of contacts can not only help with this but also give you access to information about a business, such as:
- how a company is doing against its competitors
- whether the company is growing, is stable or is declining
- what it is like to work there
- what kind of strategy it is following
- some background information on key managers to you.
Some of these considerations you may have researched in Week 3. Networking adds another element to your research. It creates the opportunity to ask questions, find information or uncover differing perspectives through conversations.
The next activity is designed to help you to reflect on what networking has to offer you.
Activity 2 My reasons for networking
This activity will help you to identify and prioritise your reasons for building new networks, or extend existing ones. You can be more purposeful about networking when you are clearer on your motivations.
The following table asks you to rank each of the potential reasons for networking according to their importance to you now. Do not worry about assessing this for the long term. You can either copy the table into your notebook or complete it in the Resource pack. Use the following scale:
- 1 = the most important reason (for example, I am unlikely to be successful in my current career aims if I do not do this)
- 2 = important reason (but not my priority)
- 3 = not very important reason (that may only make a small difference to my chances of success)
- 4 = unimportant (will make little or no difference to my chances of success at this point)
Table 1 Reasons for networking
|Getting things done|
|Finding creative solutions|
|Ensuring I stay current|
Now answer the following questions in your notebook.
- Which reasons are the most important to you and why?
- What would you use networking to do next? For example, if the most important reason was ‘finding creative solutions’ – is there a specific problem you want to address?
Your thoughts here will depend on where you are with your career at the moment and what you want to achieve. Whatever they are, you will have the opportunity to firm up your plans in Week 8.
It is useful to consider different types of networks and how they can best help you. That is the subject of the next section.