• network into a job posting

    Don’t try to network into a job posting. It doesn’t work.

    Students often mistakenly try to network into a job posting they see online.  For example, let’s say that you’re looking for jobs online (despite my repeated admonitions not to!) and you find a posting that interests you. Then you hunt through your trove of connections to see if you can dig up a contact at the company that you can use to get an advantage in the recruitment process.  This isn’t a good strategy for several important reasons:

    1. First and foremost, how do you know that the posting is for a real job?  How do you know that it hasn’t been filled already, suspended for some reason, or originally posted only as a pipeline generator (meaning, there never was an open job)?
    2. Informational interviewing, which is my networking technique of choice, only works because it is driven by a genuine interest in someone else and their advice.  This approach is unsustainable if the sole reason you’re contacting the person is to use them to get to something else.
    3. There is a mistaken impression that a contact at the company will know who the hiring manager is for the posting (again, assuming it’s a real job), and that they will be willing to share that information with you even if they do.  It’s more likely that the contact will have no familiarity with that specific posting, suspect that you are attempting to thwart the hiring process, and decline to help you.
    4. Even if your contact does know about the position, and knows the hiring manager, he’s likely to protect the privacy of that manager instead of passing out contact information. If you already have a strong relationship with your contact then he might be interested in referring you to the manager (this is often how the hidden job market fills openings).  But you need to have already impressed your contact in order for him to risk his own reputation by referring you to someone who trusts his judgement.

    So forget about networking into a job postings, and build your network before you need it.  Your objective is to create a support group of people who know how good you are, trust that their relationship with you is based on genuine good will, and feel comfortable referring you to people they know (for any purpose).  Focus on stepping into the hidden job market instead of trying to manipulate the visible one.