What is networking and how do students with disabilities use it for career preparation?
As implied in the popular expression "hidden job market," many open positions are never advertised publicly. It is estimated that about 65% of jobs obtained fall into this group. To find these "hidden" jobs, a job seeker must actively seek out contacts in his or her field. Establishing and maintaining these contacts is called "networking."
In addition to being a resource for open positions, developing a strong network of contacts from an early age helps a job seeker become known to people who may be hiring or may be in a position to refer him or her to another hiring agent. When people with disabilities network within professional associations, college departments, employers, and community organizations, they can educate contacts about qualifications and, in some cases, the accommodations they use.
Networking should begin long before job hunting. Getting to know people in a person's chosen future career as early as high school gives the student the benefit of learning about the career field, finding a mentor, and/or obtaining work experience in internships and summer jobs.
Learn more at Networking Basics for Beginners.
Last update or review: January 24, 2013