I have discussed many times on this blog about the power, the benefits and the necessity of networking. There is a direct correlation between your success at your job, your job search and most any other endeavor and how networked you are with the world. Networking doesn't guarantee success of course - nothing guarantees success. But being connected certainly significantly increases the chances of it.
Most everyone would prefer to have a recommendation from someone they know (i.e. someone they are 'networked with') rather than choose something all by themselves. Social media is our modern day networking mechanism. 21st century businesses are being built around the power of recommendations (or the 'like'-ing) of something or someone.
Now we come to my assertion: in the job seeking, job hiring/recruiting world the power of networking is asymmetrical. I have recently been both a job seeker and a job "hirer"/"recruiter" seeking candidates for open positions and I'm finding that my network was far more able to recommend job opportunities for me than recommend people for me to hire. This is not intuitive for me. In fact I expected the opposite. As a job seeker I have a particular set of skills that will only match a small set of openings at any given time especially in today's economy where employers are (unfortunately and incorrectly in my opinion) waiting months to find literally the 'perfect' candidate.
On the other hand I find myself hiring for a myriad of positions with a variety of required skills and experience levels and I've received very few recommendations of anyone to hire. Even if someone is happily employed wouldn't they even entertain a conversation about a possibly better opportunity?
Note: Let me clarify at this point that I'm speaking about using one's own personal network for this purpose and not recruiters. Recruiters have a monetary incentive to make these types of connections and out of scope for this discussion.
So why the imbalance?
Here's my theory: while it's easy to pass on a link to a job description it's far harder to stake your reputation and recommend someone for a job to someone else. When you point a job seeker to a job posting you are a hero with relatively minimal effort. If it's not a match you are still positively remembered as making an effort. But should you recommend someone for a position and they end up not being a match or worse, they get hired and don't work out, your reputation suffers tremendously. There is a greater downside to recommending people than recommending jobs I think.
I was speaking to my friends and colleagues about this topic and one friend, Ross, pointed out the imbalance in perceived "urgency" in these types of requests. When someone needs a job there is a higher sense of urgency shared with the job seeker than shared with someone who is looking for people to hire. Someone who is looking for a job has a lot more at stake than someone who is employed and is hiring. This "urgency imbalance" depending on the request makes sense as a cause for the asymmetry as well.
What are you thoughts? Does networking work the same in both directions or are there understandable differences in the job seeking/recruiting process? I'd really appreciate responses as I'd like to know if I simply haven't used my network effectively enough during the recruitment process. Leave your comments below or shoot me an email using the link on the right for "questions"!