I recently spoke to a friend of mine, Patrick Ward, who’s been working as a marketer in LA for a few years. He’d just accepted a new role, after only a month on the job search. For some context, the average length of the job search in the U.S. is more than five months.
So I was curious to understand what he did differently. As I learned more about his approach to the job search, one thing became clear:
Patrick didn’t go about the job search in the “traditional” manner. In fact, he sent out all of two applications online before having a moment of clarity about the whole online application process.
What Patrick realized was that the online application process is fundamentally flawed. He knew he would probably have to send out hundreds, maybe thousands, of applications to land even a handful of interviews. Just as importantly, how could either he or the company really know if this job was the right fit based on a resume?
As Patrick put it, “How can one page really reflect everything that you are? It can’t.”
Instead of sending any more applications, he started networking and going to events to talk to people in person. His aim was to lead with his network and use his resume last—if at all. The resume would really just be a formality, or a way of checking boxes before everything was settled. He prioritized learning about people and their needs and communicating his value.
A month later, he accepted a great offer with a new company. Here’s how he spent those 30 days on the job search:
1. He created a virtuous cycle of networking.
Patrick was already a regular at networking events in his industry. But once he started looking for a job, he stepped up his attendance aggressively: at least one event every night.
“I adopted a pseudo sales role,” he told me. “But this time, the sale was me. I crafted a pitch: these are the three core things in marketing I do well.”
Once he introduced himself and began chatting with people, he simply asked if they knew about companies that were hiring or opportunities that might be right for him. Within a couple weeks, he had a number of introductions and warm referrals, and the rest of his job search was really about narrowing down the opportunities to find the best fit.
And Patrick didn’t divide his time between networking and sending out applications, either.
During the day, before his events in the evening, he would schedule coffee dates or phone calls to talk to the people he already had in his network. And as he met more people at the events he was attending, he scheduled follow-up calls and meetings with them. It all created a virtuous cycle of networking that quickly led to his new job.
“People weren’t shocked I got rehired. They were shocked at how quickly it happened. And that purely comes down to building for events and referrals.”
2. He found out just how helpful a network can be.
Now, I know that many people reading this are getting anxious just thinking about going to a single event where they don’t know anyone—let alone doing it every night for a month. But it really isn’t as horrible as you think.
Patrick told me one of his biggest takeaways from the search was that, “People want to help. That was the striking thing starting this job search. People were so quick, both in my offline network and my LinkedIn network, to put me in touch with people they knew. As long as you can clearly articulate what you do, people will have someone that comes to mind. Then it’s just about making the introduction.”
And the reality is, the ROI on networking is much, much higher than sending out applications.
Think about it like this: it took Patrick one month to land a new job. He went to at least 30 events during that month, spending an estimated 60-70 hours doing in-person networking. That comes out to less than 20 hours each week—and he got a job after just four weeks. You could spend eight hours a day writing cover letters and adding keywords to your resume for months, and still not land more than a couple interviews, let alone get a job. Where would you rather spend your time if your goal is to land a job quickly?
And keep in mind, networking doesn’t just help you get any old job. It helps you get a job you actually want.
3. He figured out exactly what he was getting into with this new role.
The other huge benefit of networking your way into a role is that it gives you a better sense of the company you’re joining and the role you’re taking on.
As Patrick mentioned, “Every company has a few issues. It’s about figuring out what issues you can deal with and what are your non-negotiables. And I could get all that because I wasn’t going through an HR process that’s designed to sugarcoat the problems.”
He’s absolutely right. If you only follow the prescribed HR path for joining a company, and you only interact with your future coworkers in an interview setting, you really don’t know what you’re getting into. Like Patrick said, every role has its issues. You’re not looking for a job where you love every last detail—you’re looking for a job with great upsides and manageable downsides.
And if you sit down with people in an informal setting and get to know a little more about the company, then you can walk in on Day One having already made your peace with any difficult aspects of the job. That’s the real power of leading with your network, rather than your resume.
The power of networking is also another reason why at Edvo, we focus on building the best network of companies, peers, and team members to support our candidates. If you’re actively job seeking, feel free to chat with Edvo.