There seems to be a misconception about the power of networking and how far it can take you.
With few exceptions, a network connection DOES NOT mean a guaranteed job offer. It’s not a magic wand that can be waved and result in you starting your new job on Monday.
Understanding this is important for two reasons:
- If you think all that matters is who you know, then you will not spend the time to beef up your educational achievements, hands-on skills, and/or peripheral skills such as writing or public speaking. Instead, you will only focus on meeting the “right” people and getting on their good side.
- Second, you will think it’s “in the bag” once that connection passes your name along and won’t put as much effort into acing the interview side of things and really showing them how you are the best candidate for the role.
Let’s break this down:
In a vacuum, the better engineer will likely land the job. How each employer decides who is “better” will be a combination of many factors that we are not dealing with specifically in this post. Under these conditions, it is mostly a meritocracy. However, you have to realize it is only a meritocracy at the point that you are getting in front of the right person and putting forth your case to be the best candidate.
This is where networking comes into play.
Do you think . . . ?
. . . the employer knows where to find you? Perhaps if you go to a school where they recruit, but even this is not a solid option on which to depend.
. . . the employer will be proactive and dig into your resume to really see how you’re a good fit for the role if that is not obvious from the details? Unlikely. They give your resume a quick look and quickly separate everyone into the maybe pile or the no pile.
. . . the employer cares about the random references you provide or the fact that someone they know put in a good word for you?
So while networking still DOES NOT GUARANTEE A JOB, it does give you a better chance of getting to the interview stage so that you can at least state your case to the employer.
Aside from simply getting in front of the right people and getting that chance, networking can also help you make it to the other side even though you (seemingly) fail to meet the job requirements.
Let’s be frank, we all know that the requirements listed for a job are often a wish list of items they’re hoping for in a candidate. Seeing this list, some viable candidates may be scared away and not even bother to apply. This is understandable as many applicants complain to me that the automated system weeds them out before they even have a chance. Networking can help you bypass the automated systems and have someone give your resume/candidacy some thought without the fear of automatic rejections because of minor “deficiencies” in the requirements because they know which ones are really required and which ones are just cherries on top.
I’m a huge proponent of using networking to get that opportunity and feel it is far superior to online applications. However, it is important to understand its limitations and be realistic in how it can and can not help you in your journey.
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Bonke Ndlangamandla says
Insightful. I must say that that sometimes approaching networking can be intimidating, particularly if one suffers from low self esteem.
Yes it can be intimidating. However, my suggestion would be to just go very slowly. No need to jump in and do every possible networking action
Samar Misra says
I am glad you mentioned and wish everyone else as you did as this is never mentioned in other events. At networking events speakers that say how it helped them land something which is a slap in the face to other guest attendees who have always done and nothing has resulted in such.Nice if others mention to others upfront that there is still no certainty best networking and relationships from meeting others or volunteering ensure something, though at same time to keep at it with encouragement leading to fair certain payoff.
The most hurtful, unjust part of networking is when reaching out to others to build a relation, yet not hearing back or being ghosted unexpectedly after sometime, knowing a connection inside an interview and still no interview or volunteering sincerely at an organization and not getting a job as deserved and as subtly promised from messages on networking.
Agreed, tempering expectations is important. On the flip side, the person in the position of “power” should not lead someone along and make them believe an offer or assistance is forthcoming when there is really no chance.
Samar Misra says
Thank you! What would be your suggestions to me with what I described?
Also, how do I continue treating others the way I want to be treated as I always do, while being assertive and holding accountable others even at a much higher level than me that fail with simple decency of not responding back, not following up on a commitment or ghosting? Law of karma is there and nobody shall be burning bridges as highly unacceptable.
Sometimes, you have to just make expectations clear. If they can’t live up to them without a good reason, then perhaps you need to break ties as it pertains this person/project and not waste your energy.