Anyone who fishes knows that you can catch only one fish at a time, unless you use a net. To find a job, you also need to use a net. To snag multiple job offers you need a network.
A simple definition for network is: a netting or a net. That is fine for fishing, but to find a job you have to use a social network, which is: an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance or helpful information. However, I think most experts at finding a job will tell you that the people in a social network do not have to have a common interest, except may you. That is, you are their common interest. What does that mean?
Your social network can be just about anyone. Your parents are in your social network. Your friends, co-workers, and neighbors are in your social network. In other words, just about everyone around you is part of your social network. You see some of these people almost every day, but some of them you only see occasionally, and some you only see on holidays. Also, there are people you know that you have not seen in years, since you worked with them.
In my opinion, your social network is the best tool at your disposal for finding a job. While I have found jobs in other ways, the main way I have found the jobs I have had was because someone knew about a job and knew that I was qualified to do that job. Plus, that person was willing to vouch for me, to put in a good word for me with the potential employer. Think about it. When you want to see a movie or read a book wouldn't you rather see a movie or read a book recommended by a trusted friend? Granted, most employers are not going to put much stock in what your mom or dad tells them. But they might know someone an employer would trust.
Not everyone in your network is going to recommend jobs to you and you to employers. However, just about everyone you know in turn knows several other people (their social network). And, you guessed it, each one of those people know several other people. You are a friend of a friend of a friend for hundreds of people. What are the odds of one of those people knowing about a job that may not even be advertised yet? And your friend's friend will suggest you because they trust your mutual friend's opinion.
Is there a moral to this story? Yes. The moment you realize that you need a new job, for whatever reason (graduating from college, tired of your current job, loss of current job), let your social network know. Tell your mom and dad, your neighbors, people in your religious group, anyone who will listen. You never know where that next job might come from and who will suggest it. You probably do that instinctively without even realizing that you are networking.
Networking is such a powerful tool, it has now been formalized on the internet in several different ways. I was aware of FaceBook.com and MySpace.com, but just recently heard about LinkedIn.com. These sites (and many others) take social networking into cyberspace. Each site can be used to showcase ... you. Some are better for showing the away-from-work you and some (like LinkedIn) are better for housing your career information and work history. In the case of LinkedIn, you can list as much or as little about your work history as you feel necessary. And, each site has its version of making connections to others on the site. At LinkedIn, you can make connections, and give and receive recommendations from other members who know you. At FaceBook, you can make friends and post photographs.
There are many things to do when you are looking for a job. Networking is one of the most important and probably one of the most fruitful things you can do. Alert everyone you know and mobilize your social network. Google "social networking" to get more networking tips and check out LinkedIn.com, FaceBook.com, or other social networking sites to increase your job search network and possibly add some people to it that you haven't seen in years. Who knows, Kevin Bacon might even be a friend of a friend of a friend ...