Networking makes the interview process easier.
No employer will admit this or agree with this publicly because every employer wants you to think its hiring and HR practices are uniform for all applicants and employees. Based on my own experience and some “off-the-record” conversations with employers and hiring managers, that’s a load of garbage.
Without exception, interviews I have managed to land through job boards or traditional channels have always been much tougher than interviews I have gotten through personal contacts and networking.
This is true for 3 reasons:
- When you network your way into an interview with the real hiring manager (note: HR is not the real hiring manager unless you want a job in the HR department), you can often bypass the initial screening process. In other words, you can either skip the initial screening process altogether or the initial screening process becomes nothing more than a formality (as long as you don’t botch it).
- If an employer doesn’t know you or the person who referred you, they should (and usually do) challenge you more during the interview process.
- Your confidence will be much higher when you know you share a personal connection with the interviewer, as opposed to when you are walking in 100% cold.
As a senior in college, networking helped me land an interview for a front-office job with the NBA’s Washington Wizards. There wasn’t an initial phone screen as part of my interview process, and I never had to talk to anyone in HR. Instead, my first interview was with the real hiring manager. In this case, that was the team’s Director of Sales. My 2nd interview was with the head honcho for the entire franchise. At the time, that was Team President, Susan O’Malley.
After some initial small-talk, the first question they asked me in both interviews was, “So, how do you know David Cope?” (David was a former senior executive for the Wizards that had referred me to the team’s Director of Sales. I had been referred to David through another sports executive I met at an American Marketing Association networking event several weeks earlier.)
Because of my networking, I wasn’t “some candidate the team found on Monster.com.” Instead, I was “the candidate referred by one of their former senior executives.” What do you think that did for my credibility before I even showed up for my interviews? My first impression was taken care of well before I even walked into their offices.
Perhaps more importantly, what do you think it did for my confidence? I walked in with a halo around my head, and after I got over my initial anxiety, I felt much more relaxed than in interviews with other companies where I lacked a personal connection. (Note: You still need to prepare impeccably for every interview.)
Want to stand out from thousands of other job-seekers, bypass HR gatekeepers, and make the entire interview process easier? Then, find a way to get introduced to the real hiring managers (not the HR department) at the companies you want to work for. This is how I broke into the highly competitive sports and entertainment industry as an inexperienced, shy, 21 year-old student. Networking worked for me, and it can work for you, too!