Let me start this off by making it crystal clear I do believe getting a warm referral to a job can make a huge difference. It tells a prospective employer that someone they believed in enough to hire and keep around, someone who knows more about you than they will learn from your resume, thinks you would be great at this job.
However, unless you’re very well connected, your network is not the holy grail of job searching, and should definitely NOT be the only tool you use. As preferable as it is to just ask around for a job, here’s why it may not be enough:
- Your connections are not endless. Great jobs you will be great at and that will make you happy are out there, but the odds you know someone who can help you get it are directly dependent on your network (and I don’t mean knowing recruiters.) How many people do you know who work in a company or an industry you really want to work in? That’s probably what your network is limited to.
- People only remember you’re looking for a week. Or maybe two. The deal is though, unless you see someone every week and talk about your job search, they may not think of you the next time someone tells them about a job. That doesn’t make your 2nd and 3rd connections on LinkedIn sound so promising all of a sudden…
- You party with your friends. It’s sad, but true. Friends see you at your worst sometimes and that can affect how they perceive you’ll be at work. A stranger who interviews you, on the other hand, will only see what you want to show them. I’m not advocating being deceitful, just putting your best foot forward and being the person you want to be.
In short, definitely leverage your network when looking for work, but don’t forget to explore all of the other avenues out there. I’ve gotten most of my jobs so far just by applying in.