We’ve all heard the tips and career advice for job candidates out there. There is no shortage of information for how to conduct a successful job search and application process; it’s an entire industry. I’ve read my fair share of them and taken some of the information to heart, but so much of it is contradictory or common sense, and it all can be fatiguing. What’s consistent in all these advice columns, and Top-10 lists, and Today show segments is that networking is the most important factor in finding a job. I mean this as a positive, but not normative statement.
Treating all of that as a given, I’m more interested in examining why this is the case and if this is actually a healthy way of job hunting for both employers and job candidates alike. What is the factor that makes networking more important than job board applications? Skepticism.
Employers who meet people through their networks are less skeptical and thus more open to hiring those they have some familiarity with. Employers who find job candidates through job boards are inherently skeptical of candidates. We can all empathize with this pretty natural skepticism because many positions receive hundreds, or thousands, or even tens of thousands of applications. Job boards are intrinsically impersonal, and even if an application makes it through the automated software and to a hiring managers’ desk, there is a degree of scrutiny each application receives that doesn’t exist when meeting potential candidates personally. The impersonal application process reverses the steps in the process. Instead of apply – personal meeting/interview – offer. The networking process is personal meeting/interview – apply – offer. An inherent disadvantage to the non-networker.
The bar is higher for the non-networker than the networker, and everyone knows this. Thus the interview environment is going to be much more intimidating to non-networkers. There is more to prove, more uncertainty, and everyone’s guard is up. So, there are two things we must contend with, we need to recognize that this is a problem, and we must figure out a solution.
The piece Networking Hurts Our Workforce echoes the problem of continuing to use networking as the primary driver of finding talent.
“To the detriment of productivity, networking has become the focal point of the hiring process. Millennials are continually encouraged to earn a college education, pursue an advanced degree, and even work unpaid internships in hopes to secure future employment. After acing exams and volunteering to gain experience, Generation Y struggles with the new, vague career advice of “just network.”
It’s incredibly unbalanced and unproductive to employers, and the country as a whole, that one group of jobseekers faces more skepticism than another. So what’s the solution to this problem? Social networking of course. Now this is not a magic bullet to solve everything, and many organizations completely miss the point of social networking altogether.
Social networking is not used my most HR departments and organizations to recruit individuals and this needs to change as there are a lot of opportunities in this space that don’t exist in the real world. Creating topics for potential candidates to discuss with HR staff about the organization on Facebook or Twitter can help identify those that are truly interested in the organization and their knowledge. Seeking creative applications through Pinterest or Instagram could be a way of recruiting. Any tool is only as good as the people behind it. Not using the resources of free social networks damages the potential of organizations and keeps young people, who are not part of vast networks, from jobs they are qualified for.