Networking contacts are people who will help you by allowing you to tap into their networks to meet people and gain information; they may actually direct you toward job openings. In the context of finding a job, you can think of your network as your personal sales force since they will help you move your search forward. The goal is a constantly growing network of people who will be aware of your job goals, listen for opportunities, and pass leads to you.
Suppose you were the head of a business unit and someone in your unit left the firm. What would you do? If you responded, “Who do I know that can successfully perform the job skills and who would I like to have on my team?” you’d be following the path executives take. You would mentally search your network for that person and call them in for an interview.
This networking is called the “hidden” job market because the position is not advertised or put with any type of recruiter. If you didn’t know anyone, then you’d most likely ask your staff whom they knew (tap into their networks.)
There are issues to consider before going to the human resources department to seek assistance in the “open” job market. One reason is that most people would be more comfortable hiring a friend or acquaintance whom they feel would be an excellent “fit” in their area. Another reason is that it is much more time consuming to wait for the process of advertising, screening résumés, and interviewing candidates. This is why the probability is so high that you will land your next job through networking.
In fact, based on industry statistics, there is a 75%-90% probability your next job will come through networking versus a 5%-15% chance you will land your job through advertisements and a 5%-10% chance you will land your job through recruiters.