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Identifying and Building Your Job Search Network

You may not realize it, but you probably network in some way every day. Anytime you make a new contact or connection, whether casually speaking with someone regarding a common interest or running into someone during a daily routine, you are essentially increasing your network. Everyone you know - and everyone each of those people know - are potential members of your job search network. The key is learning how to utilize your network to help you secure the job of your choice.

Make a list

One of the first steps in networking is to list all of the people you know who might be able and willing to assist you in your job search. There are four types of network contacts.

  • Sources are people who have information about a particular company or organization you would like to work for. These contacts can let you know:
    • whether or not the company has any advertised vacancies, or will have any vacancies in the near future.
    • who within the company is involved in the hiring process.
    • the kinds of skills hiring decision makers value the most.
    • details about the workplace environment, pay, prospects for promotions, opportunities to learn new skills, and other information that will help you decide if it makes sense to invest time and energy pursing employment with the company.
  • Recommenders are people who can facilitate a meeting between you and one or more hiring decision makers by directly connecting you with them, by passing along your resume, or through a recommendation.
  • Hiring Decision Makers include people inside a company who are directly involved in the hiring process, including team leaders, supervisors, or department heads. (In a very small business, the owner may be the primary hiring decision maker).
  • Linkers are people who can introduce you to Sources, Recommenders, other Linkers, and in some cases to Hiring Decision Makers. When you begin to make your list of contacts, you may find many of the people will be Linkers. That's okay, because at least some of them will be able to connect you with others who may provide more valuable information or assistance.

A single contact can often play several roles. A Source, Recommender, or Hiring Decision Maker, for example, may also be a Linker, who can connect you to additional people who can provide information or recommendations. Feel free to use the following table to begin identifying the members of your job search network, to record basic contact information, and to determine which of the four roles your contacts play.

Job search network contact table

If you find it difficult to develop a list of contacts, consider becoming more involved in social activities and groups, and make it a point to introduce yourself to and to learn more about the people you meet. For example, by joining a religious congregation or one or more local community organizations, or by volunteering with local nonprofit agencies, you can quickly begin establishing networking relationships with dozens, if not hundreds, of people. Also, consider viewing Volunteering - Help Others (& Yourself, Too) and Job Fairs and Targeted Recruitments for ideas of how to expand your professional network.