Networking is one of the single most important skills you can develop if you want an awesome career — and want to avoid struggling so hard every time you look for a new gig. More than half of professionals in a LinkedIn study were hired for a job at a company where they already had a connection. And it’s not just LinkedIn pushing the idea that networking is powerful.
“Research consistently shows that internal referrals are a top source of hires, meaning those personal relationships can have significant payoffs,” Paul Wolfe, senior vice president and head of HR for Indeed, said in an interview.
Friendly relationships can help you find jobs you might not otherwise hear about, and a personal referral could even boost your chances of being hired by up to 6.6%, according to a Glassdoor survey. “Aligning yourself with key connectors is critical to potential career opportunities,” Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster, said in an email.
But while networking is key to getting your foot in the door, recent research shows it might be especially important in certain industries: A new study by LinkedIn found that companies in some sectors tend to hire workers with pre-existing connections more than those in other fields. Which are the best areas to get a job through a friend? Here’s what the data suggested.
Industries where networking matters most
Networking seems to help most in industries requiring highly specialized training, according to the LinkedIn study. Fields with the most hiring from within employee social circles included animation, computer networking, semiconductors and the military. In these industries, about 45%, 44%, 44% and 42% of hires, respectively, already had a first-degree connection to the company from their network.
Banking, the oil and energy industry, motion picture and film, defense and space, higher education and broadcast media were also among the top industries where hiring managers drew from employee networks when placing new job candidates. In each of these industries, between 35% and 39% of all hires came from networks.
In the field of education in particular, networking mattered much more when trying to get hired at colleges and universities, rather than primary and secondary schools: Nearly 33% of hires in research roles had connections, while just about 16% of new hires in primary and secondary education seemed to already have an “in” that may have helped them land their job.
Lacking a lot of personal connections in your field? To really build out your network in these areas, there are plenty of industry-specific groups you can join, like the Association of Information Technology Professionals and the Independent Computer Consultants Association. “And don’t forget the importance of networking within your current company,” Wolfe advised.
Industries where networking may help less
Per LinkedIn data, industries where employers seemed to draw the least from professional networks included writing and editing; restaurants; individual and family services; alternative medicine; photography; warehousing; recreational facilities and services; veterinary; medical practices and graphic design.
One big caveat: Since these figures are all drawn from LinkedIn data, it’s also possible that writers, editors and restauranteurs are using personal networking, too — but they just aren’t necessarily connected to those friends or acquaintances over LinkedIn, specifically.
Still, in the writing and editing field, just 7% of new hires were connected with employees’ LinkedIn networks — while only 9% of restaurant workers had a connection. In each of these other professions, between 11% and 13% of new hires came from employee networks.
The finding that medical hires tended to have fewer existing connections is perhaps least surprising — since test scores and other qualitative measures are key criteria for hiring doctors, rather than who the professionals might know. Another reason medicine might be an exception? The process by which doctors land residencies is determined by a matching algorithm.
Now, regardless of whether networking matters less in these fields, it still doesn’t hurt to have a group of professionals who can help you to explore career opportunities: “When you’re networking just to get onto someone’s radar screen and learn more about other companies, hopefully when you stay in touch, if an ideal job does open up, you’ll be top of mind for that employer,” Salemi said.
Again, there are industry groups like the American Medical Women’s Association which can help you to make connections that could advance your career. Joining one is easy enough — and you never know what could happen.
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