I feel a slight amount of guilt, over having waited this long to actually write this advice up, but here it is. How to Network, and I don't mean spamming every doofus you come across on LinkedIn. (I actually have a big issue with this, and am happy to get on my soap box about this, but I'll save that for our "Do you even LinkedIn, Bro?" article).
Networking. Everyone says that good jobs go to people they know, which is partially true.
Often times, you simply need to know someone to get the interview, and after that, it's on you. While this falls under networking, it's not as complicated or as difficult as some think. The first step is getting in the door, the next step is carrying yourself in a manner that people perceive you to be competent (Smarter people than I have concluded that someones first impression of you will be based on the first few seconds they see you) It's harder to prove your incompetence than it is to prove someone wrong about their impression of you if you look like a slob.
Want to know how easy it is? Find a job posting for a halfway decent position, let's go with the EMS Coordinator position I found available at a trauma center near me. Being realistic, this isn't a level 1 facility, as I'm sure I wouldn't be qualified for it, and I don't want to expand my 'network capital' on a job I am obviously unqualified for. But this one is a level 3 facility that I have taken patients to, and generally know enough about to talk about in an interview.
I will now look at the management team on LinkedIn. There are multiple individuals listed that have a decently high chance of being decision makers for this Emergency Room. Two of these people have '2nd degree connections'. Because I was smart, and exploited my veteran status for a year of FREE LinkedIn Premium, I am able to see who those connections are. It turns out one is someone I went to school with, and the other is someone I worked at the bars with, who is now an RN at that facility.
I message both, hoping them well and inquiring about the position posted, and if they are able to possibly introduce me via email to the decision makers. Depending on our relationship, and their relationship with them, I have a good chance of getting a phone call at minimum, or a coffee/lunch at best with the decision maker. I am now coming to them, as a formerly unknown applicant, now a vouched for potential hire, through someone they know well enough to be connected with on LinkedIn.
This took me less than 5 minutes. That is basic networking for jobs. You don't need to do this for entry level jobs. While not generally considered, when applicants come to a hiring manager with a referral from a decision maker, it's usually implied that this is who they want to hire, or heavily be considered, possibly even considered on a personal vouch in lieu of meeting all the strict requirements.
With this being said, I am reluctant to connect to individuals on LinkedIn who add every last person they can find, because when I inevitably try to use the network, and ask if they do know a specific person, they generally don't.
"Everyone you meet, knows someone you need to know." - The only sentence I retained from an expensive 3 day leadership conference I was sent to by a company that hired me into a director position I was grossly under-qualified for, simply because I networked and sold myself well.
I need a good job in Armed security