It’s not what you know but who you know – Using your networks to find work




Many mature aged job seekers often tell me that they have never had a resume, never applied for a job and never had an interview. In the “olden days” they got their job through word of mouth. Maybe a family member had worked in the business, or they got chatting to their neighbour over the back fence or they ran in to someone at the butcher or milk bar and just happened to hear of a job going. Word of mouth was the popular choice for recruiting back in the day.

Fast forward 20 – 30 – 40 years and word of mouth still plays a big role in how businesses recruit and fill their vacancies.


Did you know not all jobs are advertised? The jobs you see on, Facebook and Linked In or even the newspaper are only a very small portion of the jobs available in the job market at any given time. I talk to employers every day who have vacancies and are not advertising. At Inspire HQ we fill a large proportion of the jobs we recruit for through our networks.

Even in today’s world of tech; social media, online job boards, video etc; it can be not what you know but who you know when it comes to looking for work. Today there is more of a focus on what you know and just chatting to your neighbour over the back fence might not necessarily land you the job, you still might need to write a resume, apply for the job and go through an interview however who you know can absolutely get you in front of the hiring manager.


So how can you use your networks when looking for a job?

Most people I talk to about using their networks don’t want to be a burden on other people. However in my experience, people genuinely love to help other people. Sometimes we just need to be brave and ask for help.

Depending on your situation, if it’s common knowledge you are looking for work it’s much easier to leverage your networks and word of mouth. If you are still in a position and need to be discreet so your current employer doesn’t find out, you’ll need to take a much more reserved approach. After all, while our networks can help us in our job search, they can also hinder us; ever noticed how everyone knows everyone in Ballarat.

Linked In is by far the best online tool to leverage your networks. If you can, update your profile to say you are currently looking for new opportunities. Building your connections and reaching out to those connections is critical.


I often find that sometimes people don’t know how to help until they are asked a very direct question. Just mentioning in passing that you are looking for a job and if they happen to hear of anything could they please let you know can be a little vague for some people. The typical response to this kind of request will be “yeah sure no worries” and if someone directly asks them if they know anyone looking for work they will probably think of you.

However if we re-frame our question and ask “who do you know that I should talk to about job opportunities in management (or insert whatever type of work that is of interest to you)?” we have a much more powerful question. It can then be followed up with “who do you know at Company ABC (insert the specific name of a company that this contact may have worked for in the past or currently works for) that I could talk to about work opportunities?” With these kinds of questions you are much more likely to get a quality lead. Your contact has to stop and think of the name of a person they can connect you with. If they can give you this person’s contact details even better. The next step is to confirm that when you make contact with this person, that it’s ok for you to drop your contact’s name to help open the conversation.

Once you have a name or a lead, it’s then up to you to do something with that valuable piece of information. Maybe it’s a Linked In approach, an email or nothing beats picking up the phone and having a conversation.


If you limit your job search to simply scrolling through an online job board each day waiting for your dream job to be advertised, you might be waiting a while. Get on the front foot and use who you know to open more doors and create opportunities.



Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at or by following Angela on LinkedIn.



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