Job hunters often grouse, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Forget a grammar quibble about whether that should be “who” or “whom.” Focus instead on the statement’s truth. It typically is.
And that’s not necessarily out of your control. Effective networking can shift some of the hiring odds to what you know rather than whom.
Here’s the key: You have to meet the right people and make sure they know what you know.
Studies shared by the Society for Human Resource Management and other researchers prove that effectiveness
A report published in October 2016 found that employers were hiring about 1 in every 100 applicants. But when the applicants came from employee referrals, the hiring ratio improved to 1 in 16 — for the very best odds of landing a job.
For applicants who were vetted and placed by employment agencies, the hiring odds were 1 in 22. For candidates who were “proactively sourced,” meaning provided by recruiters who search through online resume databases, job boards and professional social media profiles on LinkedIn to find potential candidates, the ratio was 1 in 72.
So what do the statistics mean in real life?
If you are targeting a particular company or job and you don’t personally know someone who already works in that capacity, you have to meet them. You need to use that often-advised by often-misunderstood technique: networking.
That starts with telling everyone you know that you’re in a job search. Don’t be shy or embarrassed. But don’t burden them with complaints or whining. Instead, craft a brief summary about what kind of job you want, where you want it, and why you’re perfect for it.
Your relatives and friends may be connected to the job you want, but they may know someone who does. They may grease the introductions. But more important is the research you do on your own.
You must find the professional organizations or other groups where you can meet people who do what you want to do. Attend their meetings. Learn about their organizations’ hiring needs. Bring copies of your resume. Be engaging and succinct about your skills, experience and interests.
Effective networking means that you are clear and timely in your pitch about what you can bring to the organization — not what the organization can do for you.
You also need to understand how the recruiting, or headhunting, industry works. It’s often said that the time to get to know headhunters is before you need one. That’s because headhunters work for employers, suggesting candidates that fill employers’ stated needs. Headhunters aren’t in business to find you a job.
That said, you should make yourself visible to headhunters who specialize in the areas that fit your goals.