Find a job by networking
Many job vacancies are filled before they are advertised. Networking is an effective way to find out about these jobs and can help you to get ahead in your career.
Networking is using the people you know, and the people that they know, to find out about job opportunities. It’s about building relationships through your contacts.
Your network can include:
- friends and family
- work colleagues and others they work with
- people you know on social media
- employers you've contacted directly
- recruitment consultants
Why networking is important
Networking can help you:
- hear about job vacancies
- let people know that you're looking for work
- learn more about a career or training scheme and whether you'll like it
- find out what it's like to work for a particular company
- gather more named contacts to follow up
- get recommended for a job
Building a good network also means you'll have people you can come back to for support later in your career.
Make sure that you connect with the right people. To do this, decide what you want from your network before you start.
For instance, are you looking for:
- a job?
- a change of career?
- work experience?
- training or an apprenticeship?
- careers advice?
- information about what a job is like?
Be clear about what you want from the people you make connections with. The easier you make it for them to help you, the more likely they are to do it.
Networking works both ways. Show that you also have something to offer. For example, if you see someone asking for advice, offer to help them if you can. It could be as simple as sending them a link to an article online.
Networking can feel intimidating at the start. If you feel nervous or shy, ask the person you’re talking to something about themselves. It takes the pressure off you and shows them that you're interested in them.
Top tip: always follow up networking with an action. If you've been given a name to contact about a job - do it. If you offered to give someone else information, make sure you do. If you follow up, it shows people that you’re motivated, confident and keen.
Informal networks are people that you know outside of work. They can include:
- friends or family
- members of clubs or teams you're in
- people on a course that you’re doing
- people who volunteer with you
- the online community you chat to
- someone you know from school, college or university
You can ask members of your informal network:
- if they know someone who does the sort of work you’re interested in
- whether they know anyone who is currently hiring
- the best ways to look for vacancies in their line of work
- how they got their job
Top tip: make a list of 3 people you know who you could ask for recommendations or job advice.
Online networking is a good way to meet people, especially if you’re nervous about doing it in person.
You can find a group or community to connect with. The people you meet may themselves be part of larger online communities.
You can join social media channels like:
There are also lots of community forums that you can take part in. These places give you opportunities to:
- build your network
- develop a reputation for being helpful
- show you're good at what you do
LinkedIn is an example of a professional networking site. It lets you create an online profile like a CV to highlight your skills and the things you’ve done. It also allows you to:
- research companies
- look for jobs
- join groups where you can make connections
- develop relationships
Employers often use social media to find out about employees they want to recruit. Make sure you're creating the right sort of online presence that your prospective employer will be looking for.
Be careful with the information and images you put online. Most social media is public, so if you would not be happy letting your boss see it, think twice before adding it online.
You can attend networking events in your local area. These include:
- careers and job fairs
- industry talks
- college open days
- events for certain groups, for example women in science or black and minority ethnic business owners
- workshops for self-employed people or those looking to start their own business
- industry-led events and conferences
Some events are free and some will cost money. You can often find out about events from:
Top tip: at events, write down one memorable thing about the people you meet on their business card. This makes it much easier to remember them later.