LinkedIn is a useful tool to assist networking, but it’s just a tool to help you get face to face with people. Face to face is where the real networking happens. You may hear some people say that most jobs aren’t even advertised. That’s not entirely true – most jobs do get advertised, but by the time they get advertised they usually already have a leading candidate, and maybe two. The golden ticket in job searching is to have a relationship with the hiring manager before the job gets advertised. You want to be that leading candidate. Job openings most open to external candidates occur in growing companies, so you will want to try to network into those companies experiencing growth, even if they don’t currently have an opening that fits you.
So look for companies that are in growing industries that are adding people. If your experience is in a declining industry, think about switching industries. It’s hard, but consider what functions you can perform that are transferrable to another industry. You can change industry or you can change function, but you can’t change both in one move. Larger companies tend to destroy the net number of jobs through acquisitions. There are replacement jobs in big publicly traded companies when people leave, but not much actual growth of new jobs. Therefore in these companies internal candidates get a high percentage of open positions,especially if their current roles are destined for elimination. Smaller companies are the real job creators, and fewer candidates look there. Especially in a contracting industry, the growth companies are the smaller ones, but they are harder to find. You really need to network to find them.
To paraphrase the mantra from Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign, it’s the networking, stupid. There are people who are taking the coaching and doing the hard work of networking. They’ve written down their list of 50 target companies and broken it into bite size groups of 10 or less. They’ve met with people and asked them about each of these companies and about other growth companies that they should consider. They’ve honed that list with the information from those meetings. They’ve asked the people they’ve met for the names of contacts at these companies, and they’ve contacted those people to meet with them, and further hone their list of companies. This is how they networked into growing companies and gotten considered for jobs that hadn’t yet been advertised. How have you been networking? What’s your process? Where is your list of target companies? Just talking over and over to the same handful of friends is not networking. Networking has a goal, and you can measure the progress toward the goal. If you can’t produce your list of target companies, then you don’t have a goal – you are just aimlessly responding to job ads. If you can’t show how that list of target companies has evolved over time, and how you have identified and grown your contacts within that target list over time, then you aren’t making progress.