By Marc Basil | December 16, 2016

I recently had lunch with a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) who had engaged our firm to assist with the hiring of a Controller for his team. In discussing his career and how he had successfully reached the level of CFO, I was fascinated to learn he had never “applied” to a job – ever.

In his 30-year career, he has only held four positions: He was initially hired right off of campus into one of the large, public accounting firms, and his following three positions were sourced through his own network. The CFO explained, “I am blessed with a network filled with people who want to help me.”

That is an incredibly powerful statement, when you step back and look at how this individual has leveraged his network as he has moved his career forward.

In recent research, networking was found to be one of the dominant methods used by successful job seekers. When my firm works with a candidate to assist in a job search, I am awestruck by how often the individual’s own network is overlooked. Some of this is human nature. Often times, people simply do not want to ask for help. So, instead, you cross your fingers and submit resume after resume online, which certainly can yield success, but at a much lower rate.

While we see the job market as incredibly strong these days, we continue to find companies approach the hiring of their open positions with a high degree of selectivity. Specifically, if a candidate does not possess every attribute they are looking for, the organization simply will not even interview the candidate, let alone hire them.

Therefore, I believe there is a greater opportunity to leverage the aspect of networking for accounting, finance and IT professionals in the workforce. Below are three advantages I think networking holds for individuals who are looking to make a career change.

1. Gives you a solid reference.
It’s usually a good thing to have someone vouch for you. If a candidate has a strong relationship with an individual inside the company that you are applying to who can attest to skillsets, ethics etc., the hiring managers are more likely to make a concession and take a meeting or interview with you.

2. Gives you the comfort of confidentiality.
Leveraging your network offers you a much higher likelihood that confidentiality will be maintained. Your network consists of individuals you trust and with whom you have established strong business relationships. Therefore, they will likely understand the sensitivity of making a career change, as opposed to hitting “click and send” on a generic, non-descript, jobsite. You might not know who is on the other end fielding the resumes – or if that person may know your manager.

3. Gives you access to unpublished positions.
There is something to be said about a “hidden job market” – which is merely a job market that never gets advertised. There are certainly opportunities that exist today that are not on the job boards. In fact, they exist exclusively inside of various individual networks including networks of search firms, professional organizations, alumni associations and candidates. Many of which, when fostered and developed, can yield unlimited benefits.

What are some other ways that networking is beneficial to your career and job search? Let us know in the comments below.

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