FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 16, 2012) -- During a job search, you will be on constant alert for job leads. The first place you will probably look is the want ads.

Believe it or not, less than 20 percent of the jobs available will be advertised. That doesn't mean you should not check the want ads on a regular basis -- it means you should spend 80 percent of your time looking for a job in other ways.

By far the most effective method of looking for a job is networking. Simply put, networking means speaking to others -- as many as possible -- about your job search and asking for their assistance.

For many, networking seems like an unpleasant activity. We all like to be self-sufficient and independent. It is uncomfortable having to rely on others for something as important as the next job. Images of the "old boy network" come to mind.

Networking, however, doesn't need to make you uncomfortable. Keep in mind you have probably networked all of your life. While you were in school, did you talk to other students who had taken a certain course about the teacher or subject matter? If you need to get your car repaired, do you ask others about whose service they have used? If you have a problem with your personnel records and you have a friend who works in that organization, would you hesitate to ask them for advice on whom to contact?

As a matter of fact, networking can be mutually beneficial. Everyone likes to help others when possible.

In addition, if someone asks for your assistance with locating a job, it may imply you know others in positions of authority and you gain prestige. The exception to this rule is when your network contacts feel you are pressuring them and they feel you expect a job from them. This puts them on the spot and hinders the transfer of information.

When you network, you should not ask your contacts for jobs -- you should ask them for information, especially about others who may be hiring. Once you explain to network contacts what kind of job you are looking for and what you have to offer, you will find they are usually quite willing to refer you to others who hire people like you or who have job openings.

If you expand your contacts through talking to your network's referrals, you will eventually talk to one person who has a job opening. Hopefully, it will be the perfect one for you.

A lot of informal networking goes on at the ACAP Center and during our employment workshops. Clients in the process of looking for a job may find out about other types of jobs that are available and then they share it with other people looking for jobs.

Again and again, clients tell us they found their job through a network contact. We have concluded, as we say in our class, "the opposite of networking is not working."

For more information on networking or other subjects related to transition, contact the Fort Rucker ACAP Center at 255-2558.

Page last updated Thu February 16th, 2012 at 00:00