By Marc Basil | February 15, 2019

Let’s face it, searching for a new job opportunity can be daunting. Whether it’s prepping for the phone screen or choosing the proper attire for your in-person interview, the stress can add up.

For accounting and financial professionals, the job market in the last five years has been incredibly strong, with little sign of slowing down. In fact, unemployment in the U.S. sits at less than 4 percent right now, and unemployment for degreed accounting and financial professionals is even lower at roughly 2 percent.

Still, even with these incredibly strong numbers, it’s natural to feel pressured when vying for a new role. Maybe it’s because you might feel alone in the process.

It shouldn’t have to be that way if you look to your current network.

Often job seekers don’t leverage the resources right around them, including the people they know or have recently met. When, in fact, that’s one of the most powerful steps in a job search – networking. The act of building and retaining professional relationships is so impactful that in my experience more than 75 percent of professionals find a new job in this way.

So why is it that networking is such a reliable resource for landing a new position and how can we look out for these critical points? Take a look at my latest blog, The Power of Networking: 4 Tips for Job Seekers below!

1. Uncover the Hidden Jobs
Believe it or not, most hiring companies prefer to fill positions without advertising them. It saves significant money and time. More importantly, hiring managers almost universally prefer a candidate who is referred from a member of their team versus an individual who does not come with such a recommendation. Networking is an ideal way to learn about hidden job opportunities that may exist in a company. This can start with passing your resume to those in your network – letting them know you are seeking a new opportunity. You never know when a job can arise from someone in your network who thinks you could be the perfect fit and reaches out to you!

2. Get New Perspectives
One of the other unique benefits of having a strong network is the ability to seek advice and gain new perspectives on various topics about your industry or current position. Exchanging information on challenges, goals and experiences allows you to obtain new insights that you may not have otherwise considered. Similarly, offering helpful ideas to a contact is an excellent way to build your reputation as a thought leader.

3. Seek a Mentor or Sponsor
Not everyone who attends a professional networking event is there to find a job. Some individuals may be recruiting professionals seeking new candidates for their open roles. Others are subject-matter experts who are simply interested in getting ahead on topical conversation in the industry. Professionals like these are so beneficial to job seekers, as they can give you deep insight into their area of expertise, and even refer you when an opportunity in their network arises. These seasoned professionals can also serve as great mentors for you throughout your job search. They may act as someone to simply bounce ideas off, they could help coach you for a phone interview, or maybe they can help get your resume out in the marketplace. Regardless of how they can help you in your search, anyone with your best interest in mind is someone to maintain a close relationship with – especially during a job search.

4. Conduct Meaningful Conversations
Throughout networking events, many feel obligated to lead the conversations and go in with a planned agenda to talk about. What they’re forgetting is how important it is to simply listen. Letting other professionals open up to you and ask you for insight will not only allow them to trust you, but will let them know that you genuinely care. Maya Angelou tells it best when she said that people may not always remember what you said or did, but they will always remember the way you made them feel. Engaging with a professional and truly listening to what they have to say will make them feel comforted and connected – and this powerful networking will go a long way.

These are only a few powerful ways that networking can help a job seeker. Do you have any other ways? Comment below!

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