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Networking: Your Best Asset in the Job Search

Networking: Your Best Asset in the Job Search

If you're job searching, you are sure to hear people in many employment situations talking about "networking." The word networking means communicating with other people to exchange information. It also means developing contacts, especially contacts who may help you go further in your career.


The most important asset you have is other people. I don’t mean the people you spend time with everyday. They are important, too. But I mean the people you know. Friends, acquaintances, people you meet on the street. Anyone. They can all be part of your network and this network is your key to success. Let me give you an example.

My friend recently moved to Sacramento. I don’t live there anymore, but I lived there for many years. I worked in that city and still know many people there. My friend emailed me to say that she was looking for a job in that city and asked if I would send her resume to anyone I knew who might be hiring. I contacted a couple of my previous employers and forwarded them her resume and contact information. They called her, and although they weren’t hiring, they sent her resume to other employers who were. Because of this, her network of possible employers has grown in a city where she didn’t know anyone.

Employers get hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications when they post a job advertisement. What makes one person stand out above others? Recommendations from reliable people they know and trust. Job seekers get recommendations by networking.

My first job in my field came from my network. I had worked for someone who was offered a new job. When she left, a position opened. She gave my name and contact information to her employer, and because of her recommendation, I got the first job that I truly loved because of networking.

I valued this opportunity and wanted to pass along the benefits of a powerful network. At every job, every volunteer opportunity, and every personal connection I made, I asked about the needs and strengths of those with whom I interacted. Because of this, I have connected employers with qualified employees and have helped my friends find jobs. Helping others while helping ourselves is an important part of networking.

America is called “the land of opportunity.” But to have access to opportunity, you must seek it, connect with it, like an octopus with eight hands that meets, greets, and is not afraid to reach out in all directions. But how, you ask? Start with this: Make a list of people you know who are at your occupational level. Make a list of people who are above you, and one for people who are below you. Contact them. Who on this list has the job you want? Who on the list has connections to the job you want? Connect with them. If there is no one on your list who has the job you want, seek them out. Present yourself to them and ask about their work. They will be able to tell you how they reached their position; what it takes to get such a job.

I am a teacher. That’s my profession. It’s also my calling. In my classes I help students build their network. Part of that network is their peers, other students in the class. Part of their network is the teachers who guide them through their education. But perhaps the most important part of their network, are those whom they seek out from the community--people who have careers they hope to get in the future. One of my students is shadowing a language pathologist, because that’s what she wants to pursue after college. Another student has been in contact with my friends who have taught English overseas. That’s her dream, and by sharing my contacts, I’ve helped her learn more about it. I encourage students to value all their connections, and see all interactions as ones which may lead to their careers.

Communication is key. Seeing opportunity in every interaction: That is networking.


Emily Feuerherm is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Flint. She is the creator and director of the ESL classes there and has taught ESL for over 10 years in locations around the U.S. and in Switzerland.

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