It seems to me that one of the fundamental problems with our economy is the illiquidity and inefficiency around matching people to jobs. This topic is especially fresh after spending this past weekend at my five-year college reunion. Many of my classmates who were present (and perhaps an even larger number who did not attend) have experienced trouble finding a job at some point since graduation.
Surveying the landscape, it seems that the predominant advice to job seekers can be summed up in three simple words: “Network, network, network.” From career advice pamphlets to “experts” on the morning news – all I hear is that the secret to getting a job is networking.
As subversive as it may sound – I actually disagree.
It’s true that networking is an integral part of finding a job, but it is far from the full solution. The other part to it, which is far more important, is simply being an honest, reputable, intelligent person.
Networking will do you no good if you don’t convince everyone you meet that you are capable of being an excellent colleague, subordinate, or boss. If anything, networking will hurt your chances of finding a job if you do not show everyone that you are an honest, reputable, intelligent person. The more people who find out you’re no good, the more people who will know not to hire you!
When it comes to finding a job, networking is simply a medium of communication. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely the best medium of communication (far better than posting your resume online or looking at job boards), but it’s still just a medium. The message is: “I’m awesome and you should hire me.” If you have no message – the medium will not stand on it’s own.
For more thoughts on this topic – see my post on how to get your first job (one of my all-time favorite posts).